He gave a brief history of the "struggle", and in Ma'an's words:
Fayyad stressed that the Declaration of Independence came as a message of Palestinian peace addressed to the whole world, saying that in Palestine, people want to live in peace and security on the territory of an independent state. This was a historic and painful concession for self-determination, with the return of its refugees to their homes from which they were displaced, and the establishment of an independent state on the borders of June 1967 with its capital Jerusalem, a state of all the Palestinians to develop a national identity and cultural rights, and enjoy full equality of rights and duties, maintained by religious and political beliefs and human dignity, in a democratic system based on freedom of opinion, freedom to form political parties.Before Fayyad juxtaposed the concepts, I had never before put together the "historic concession" of recognizing Israel and the insistence of the "right to return" as starkly as Fayyad did. In reality, they are intertwined.
In 1988, when the PLO said it supported a two-state solution, not too many people spoke about the "right of return" in the West. Even though people were very skeptical about Arafat and the PLO, it was assumed that the idea of millions of Arabs moving to Israel is simply rhetoric and that if one day peace would be at hand, that issue would easily be resolved.
To Arafat, though, the concept of "return" was the Trojan horse that allowed him to make his "historic concession."
It is now 22 years later. Arafat is dead and a supposedly new "moderate" leadership has taken over the West Bank. In those 22 years, the number of "refugees" has more than doubled. Yet for about two-thirds of those 22 years, the Palestinian Arabs have had some measure of autonomy to be able to not only mainstream the "refugees" in their territory but also to champion the idea that the Palestinian Arabs living in camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan should want to move to their state. The so-called "moderates" have not publicly moderated their daily public calls for their brethren to move back to their nonexistent homes that they never lived in.
For 22 years, they have not been trying to solve that problem - they have been trying, and succeeding, to exacerbate it.
And even if a state is erected in the West Bank, and even if agreements are signed for a symbolic number of people to "return" and the rest get compensated, these same moderate leaders will not object one bit when their more radical brethren insist that the agreement is null and void and a new campaign of terror must be initiated against Israel to correct that injustice. (Very possibly that campaign will start from within Israel.) The playbook that has worked for them once will be tried again - a couple of decades of terror followed by more world pressure on the terrorized.
If you ask even the most moderate Palestinian Arabs their true feelings, most will tell you that Israel is a temporary blip of history, something that will come and go like the Kingdom of Jerusalem during the Crusades. They regard their eventual takeover of the land as inevitable, and their supposed rights to that land as inviolable. They might sign a paper to temporarily set aside that right as a stepping stone to obtaining it in full, but they will never, ever give it up.
When Fayyad or Abbas talk about the influx of millions of people to Israel, they are not posturing. They really mean it. And it is not necessarily a conscious implementation of Arafat's "stages" plan to destroy Israel; they regard it as a historic tsunami that will eventually result in Jews in what they regard as their natural state - being chased from country to country, begging for dhimmi status in exchange for their lives.
The 1988 Time article I linked to above has a section that is bitterly humorous:
If the Palestinians reject an offer reasonable people can identify as forthcoming and courageous -- as they have rejected every attempt at compromise for almost a century -- no one could fault Israel for then saying, "Shalom. Come to talk to us again when you've grown up."
As Abbas proudly pointed out last week, the so-called "moderates" have not moved one inch in their positions since the mass murderer Arafat first made his "historic concessions" in 1988. The extreme positions on "return," Jerusalem and 1949 armistice lines are identical. Yet by dint of repetition, they are still considered "moderate."
Meanwhile, Israel has done exactly what Time recommended, multiple times. And the result is the exact opposite of Time's assumption. Everyone faults Israel for not being forthcoming and courageous enough, and no one faults the Palestinian Arabs for their intransigence.
So what has changed since 1988?