Updated 6:50pm: Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas rescinded his internationally sanctioned right to return to his hometown of Safad, annexed by Israel in 1948, on Israeli TV Thursday night.
Pressed by Israeli Channel 2 TV about whether the Palestinian Authority considered towns in the Galilee to be part of Palestine, Abbas struck a deeply personal note in the Authority's latest efforts to placate Israeli concerns about Palestinian refugees.
"I want to see Safad. It's my right to see it. But not to live there," said an impassioned Abbas.
He was born and raised in the northern town of Safad in 1935, fleeing to Syria with his family during Israel's violent campaign to dispossess and expel Palestinians in 1948.
"I am a refugee but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine. And the other parts is Israel."
Hamas' prime minister Ismail Haniyeh reacted on Friday, saying Abbas' remarks were "extremely dangerous" and contradicted longtime Palestinian territorial demands.
Abbas' comments came a day before the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which officialized British support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution on December 11, 1948 calling Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and orders that the state compensate Palestinians for any damage done to their property. The resolution was not respected, instead hundreds have been killed trying to travel back to their villages.
The Palestinian Authority has for more than two decades pushed to strike a deal with Israel that would establish a Palestinian state on borders annexed by Israel after 1967, ceding its right to those taken in 1948. However, they have reassured skeptical Palestinians that such a deal, known as the two-state solution, would not contradict the right to return.
However, documents leaked to Al-Jazeera last year detailing 10 years of Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority gave rise to fresh skepticism, with Israeli negotiators saying they would agree to a symbolic number of returnees--less than 10,000 of the 7 million currently scattered around the world and in refugee camps. Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat was found to have countered that offer with 150,000 refugees.
Abu Mazen also touted himself as the protector of Israeli security in the Channel 2 interview, announcing that Israel would not see a third Palestinian armed uprising against its occupation.
"As far as I am here in this office, there will be no third armed intifada. Never. We don't want to use terror. We don't want to use forces. We don't want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That's it."