FACT CHECK: Abbas presents disputed narrative

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2011 4:22 PM
FACT CHECK: Abbas presents disputed narrative

In his historic speech to the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas eloquently laid out the case for granting his people an independent state. But in doing so, he presented a narrative that is disputed by Israel, and in at least one case, appeared to be factually incorrect.

Here is a look at the counterarguments to Abbas' claims:

OCCUPATION: Abbas called Israel's control of the territories claimed by the Palestinians "the only occupation in the world."

THE FACTS: The world is full of ethnic minorities that might claim to be ruled by occupiers, ranging from Tibetans living under Chinese rule to Kurds in Turkey, Basques in Spain, Chechens in Russia and Muslim separatists in Indian-ruled Kashmir.

PRISONERS: Abbas referred to the roughly 8,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails as prisoners of conscience.

THE FACTS: Abbas did not mention that most Palestinian prisoners are being held because of alleged involvement in violence against Israelis. Israel's prison service says it's holding some 6,000 "security" prisoners, many of them involved in planning or carrying out deadly attacks on civilians.

JEWISH CONNECTION TO THE HOLY LAND: Abbas called for two states, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace together.

THE FACTS: Abbas did not address one of Israel's central demands, that he recognize the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. And he ignored this Jewish connection by referring to the area as the land of Muhammad and Jesus, with no mention of any Jewish biblical figure.

GAZA STRIP: Abbas referred to Gaza as an integral part of a future Palestine, briefly mentioning his reconciliation agreement with the territory's Hamas rulers and condemning an Israeli "war of aggression" there nearly three years ago.

THE FACTS: Abbas lost control of Gaza to Hamas militants four years ago, and talks over implementing a reconciliation deal announced last May are at a standstill, in large part because of Hamas' refusal to disarm or renounce its armed struggle against Israel. In condemning Israel's 2008-2009 offensive in Gaza, Abbas did not mention that the operation was launched in response to persistent rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory.

PEACE TALKS: Abbas declared the Palestinians "believe in peace" and repeatedly presented Israel as the obstacle to renewing peace talks.

THE FACTS: The Palestinians did not accept two Israeli peace offers, in 2000 and 2008, that offered them a state in the vast majority of the territories they claim. Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly offered to launch negotiations _ but refused to accept minimum outlines of a peace deal endorsed by the Palestinians and the international community. He has also not met the Palestinian condition of a settlement freeze for the duration of the talks.

SETTLEMENTS: Abbas repeatedly condemned Israeli settlement activity as the chief obstacle to peace, saying that continued Israeli construction on lands claimed by the Palestinians shows that Israel is not serious about peace.

THE FACTS: Israel might argue _ as Netanyahu did in his rebuttal Friday _ that Arab enmity to Israel long preceded the settlement of lands occupied in 1967. But Abbas, ironically, could have been even stronger in his condemnation and mentioned a jarring statistic: The number of Jews living in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has roughly doubled, to some 500,000 people, since the Oslo Accords of 18 years ago.

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