Several thousand Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza marched against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, calling him a traitor.
Several thousand Palestinians marched in two Gaza towns in the Wednesday protests. Demonstrators hoisted effigies of Abbas and other Palestinian negotiators draped with Israeli flags and chanted, Go home, traitors. Others held up photos of Abbas with his face crossed out.
The protests were sparked by the contested Palestine papers, roughly 1,600 documents about a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leaked by Al-Jazeera satellite TV. Al-Jazeera says the documents show Abbas made far-reaching concessions on Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, prompting Abbas' political rival, the Islamic militant Hamas, to accuse him of selling out Palestinian rights.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar urged Palestinian refugees to protest late Monday night, following the exposure of a document stating that Palestinian negotiators had conceded on the Palestinian right of return during negotiations with Israel.
According to the document, Palestinian negotiators conceded to settle on a right of return for a total of only 100,000 out of some 5,000,000 Palestinian refugees and their families, merely a symbolic gesture as part of a peace deal.
This concession is a contradiction of the long-held demand that all Palestinians displaced by Israel's creation in 1948 and their descendants - millions of people - return to their homes.
The papers quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing that it would be "illogical" to ask Israel to absorb 5 million refugees as part of a final peace settlement. According to Abbas, "That would mean the end of Israel."
The Papers further stated that the Palestinian president told members of his negotiating team in March 2009 that during talks with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the two sides had agreed on a specific number of refugees that could return to Israel. He stipulated that most Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to a Palestinian state and gain citizenship.
Abbas said that Israel had suggested allowing 5,000 refugees to return over a course of five years, but that the Palestinian Authority had ruled that option out of hand and instead requested that 10,000 refugees be allowed to return every year over the course of ten years – bringing the total to 100,000.
Abbas has denied these allegations, claiming that many of the Palestine papers were fabricated, presenting Israeli positions as those of his own negotiators.
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