Middle East Quarterly..
The assertion that Palestinian Arabs are the indigenous population is central in their dispute with Israel. The message is that Jews stole and now occupy the land of the indigenous Arab population. Rarely challenged, the claim is widespread, such as this statement from Henry Cattan, a Palestinian Christian jurist and writer born in Jerusalem:
The Palestinians are the original and continuous inhabitants of Palestine from time immemorial.
Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas elaborated this claim in a recent speech:
Our narrative says that we were in this land since before Abraham. I am not saying it. The Bible says it. The Bible says, in these words, that the Palestinians existed before Abraham. So why don't you recognize my right?
Saeb Erekat, the PA's chief negotiator, stated:
I am the son of Jericho. ... the proud son of the Netufians and the Canaanites. I've been there for 5,500 years before Joshua Bin Nun came and burned my hometown Jericho.
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