Page 5 of 5   <      

A CONVERSATION WITH MAHMOUD ABBAS

Are there any concessions that you're willing to make in order to reach a deal with the Israelis? Are there any concessions you demand?

We will be flexible, but before 1947, we had 95 percent of Palestine. In 1937, the partition plan gave the Israelis only part of Palestine. And they were very happy at that time. [David] Ben-Gurion was very happy with it. It didn't work. After that [came] the 1947 partition plan -- we rejected this, so we lost.

You should have taken it?

Yes, at that time, of course. But it gave us 46 percent of Palestine. . . . Now, we accept [the pre-'67 borders].

Q. But how does this differ from what President Clinton offered Arafat? Didn't he offer him almost 98 percent of the West Bank?

A. No, no. In Camp David, it was only 92. Ninety-two is unacceptable to us.

Your popularity has increased since you declared yourself independent of Hamas and set up a government in the West Bank. Does this show that when you make a bold move, people like it?

Yes, but if I make concessions which are unacceptable to the people, I think that I will not be popular anymore. But it is not a matter of popularity -- it's a matter of fairness.

Do you think that Hamas will try to undermine any agreement that you and Prime Minister Olmert will reach?

They will try.

Is the U.S. policy of squeezing and isolating Hamas a mistake, or do you think it's the right policy?

In the beginning, I believed that they were mistaken, but now we are in the same position. I am against Hamas.


<                5

© 2007 The Washington Post Company