Israel, Palestinian Leader See Common Ground on Refugees: Hamas Angered

By: AP
By: AP
Israel president welcomes Abbas

Palestinians sit by the port in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's president is welcoming an apparent concession by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a core issue in peace talks -- Palestinian refugees.
Shimon Peres said Saturday that Abbas "understands that the solution to the Palestinian refugee issue cannot be in Israel's territory and to the detriment of Israel's character."
Abbas told Israeli channel 2 TV that he does not want to live in his birthplace Safed, now in Israel. In past negotiations, Palestinians have offered to forgo the return of refugees to homes inside Israel if compensated but rarely talk so publicly of relinquishing a long held aspiration. The Islamic militant group Hamas condemned Abbas' comments.
The fate of refugees who fled or were forced to flee during Israel's creation in 1948 is one of the conflict's most emotional issues.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Hamas' prime minister has criticized the Palestinian president for comments given to Israeli media, alleging that they contradict longtime Palestinian territorial demands.
Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that Mahmoud Abbas' remarks, aired the previous night on Israel's Channel 2, were "extremely dangerous."
Abbas was speaking about borders of a future Palestinian state and said the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem are Palestine -- and the rest is Israel.
He said that while he would like to see his birthplace -- Safed, now a town in northern Israel -- he doesn't want to live there.
The fate of refugees who fled, or were forced to flee their homes in the wake of Israel's creation in 1948 is on one of the most emotional issues at the heart of Israel-Palestinian conflict.

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