Arab rejection of partition plan 'was our mistake,' Palestinian leader says in rare interview with Israeli TV; Abbas adds he and former PM Olmert were 'very close' to securing peace agreement
The Palestinian president, in a remarkable assessment delivered on Israeli TV, said Friday the Arab world erred in rejecting the United Nations' 1947 plan to partition Palestine into a Palestinian and a Jewish state.
The Palestinian and Arab refusal to accept a UN plan to partition the then-British-controlled mandate of Palestine sparked widespread fighting, then Arab military intervention after Israel declared independence the following year. The Arabs lost the war.
"It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Channel 2 TV in a rare interview to the Israeli media. "But do they (the Israelis) punish us for this mistake 64 years?
Abbas also addressed his negotiations with former Israeli leader Ehud Olmert, now in the spotlight because of the publication of the memoirs of former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Rice backs Israel's account that Olmert made a peace offer that was rejected, while Palestinians say that talks never actually reached a point where a firm offer was on the table.