Abbas takes back ‘right of return’ remarks

President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN

President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he has not given up on the right of return for Palestinians, rowing back on his comments to Israel’s Channel 2 two days previously.

President Abbas had spoken to Channel 2 on Thursday about his childhood home in Israel, saying: “I visited Safed before once. But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not to live there.”

However, in his interview on Saturday with Egyptian newspaper Al-Hayat he said that those were his personal views and did not reflect official policy on the right of return.

"What I said about Safed is my personal stance. It means nothing about giving up the right of return," he said. "No one would give up their right of return. But all those international formulas, especially that of 194, speak of a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue, and 'agreed-upon' means on the part of Israel."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to this clarification: "I watched President Abbas's interview, and have heard that since then he's already managed to go back on his words."

Last updated: 11:08am, November 5 2012