Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) told an Israeli newspaper that the Palestinians will not relinquish the "right of return", but that the issue should only be debated in permanent-status talks.
Abbas conveyed that agreement on the right of return is not a condition for negotiations. The "refugee problem is a subject for discussion in the permanent-status negotiations and should not be brought up as a precondition," he said.
Speaking to the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz, Abu Mazen said he would not be satisfied with merely a hudna (truce), but wants "absolute calm" from Hamas.
He said a temporary truce arrangement would not suffice. "I don't want to talk about a hudna, but about absolute calm." That's what he is demanding from the Hamas "clearly and frankly," Abbas was quoted as saying.
"We hope and think it is important to control the violence, put an end to it, and we expect the Israelis to understand that even if here and there some violent incidents take place, we don't agree to it."
As to what he thinks of Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's latest comments, expressing suppurt in the road map", Abu Mazen said he waited for actions. "Implementation," he said, "is the only test as far as I'm concerned."
Meanwhile, after postponing Wednesday's planned second meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers, the Palestinians announced that the meeting is back on and will be held Thursday.
Officials in Sharon's office said no new summit date was set, but Israel Radio said it might take place Thursday. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )