Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas invited Arabs and Muslims to visit the Palestinian territories to show support for the Palestinian economy and the steadfastness of the people.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Jordan Times and Al Rai in Ramallah, Abbas said Arabs have to review their views of the anti-normalisation movement which is aimed at boycotting Israel for its occupation of Arab lands and anti-Palestinian discriminatory policies (full interview to be published later this week).

Instead, this boycott is hurting the Palestinians although it was intended to help them, Abbas said, adding that it can be reviewed in a manner that distinguishes between boycotting Palestine and Israel.

“If you visit a prisoner, it is not that you’re visiting the jailer. You are doing so because it is your duty to visit a jailed brother or sister. It is your duty to visit us and to know that this is not normalisation,” Abbas stressed.

He emphasised that it was the norm before Israel occupied Jerusalem for Muslims to perform pilgrimage to Mecca and then to visit Jerusalem on their way back home.

He called for reviving this practice which ended when Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967.

If religious tourism in the Palestinian territories rises to optimal levels, “we would not be in need of foreign assistance”, he noted.

He lauded the distinguished ties between Jordan and Palestine and the high level of coordination between the two leaderships, emphasising that the Palestinian people totally reject any talk about having a substitute homeland for the Palestinians in Jordan.

The Palestinian president insisted that the only way is to establish a Palestinian state on Palestinian national soil through peaceful negotiations with Israel. He emphasised that the Palestinians are keenly working to achieve peace with the Israelis on the basis of the two-state formula and the June 4, 1967 border.

Abbas said he hopes that an agreement would be reached “within one week” on resuming peace talks.

The Palestinian leader also spoke about Palestinian reconciliation efforts and the need to have fresh presidential, legislative and national polls later this year. ___

Photo Credit: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 18, 2013. Mohamad Torokman / Reuters