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Monday, March 26, 2007

If the 'Palestinians' 'return'

The New York Times attempts to convince us all that it's okay to give the 'Palestinians' a 'right of return' because they won't use it anyway:
Even having such a debate — rethinking a sacred principle — was once impossible. Now the discussion is centering on how to define the right of return in a new way. Some have come to see the issue as two separate demands: the acceptance, by Israel, that its creation caused the displacement and plight of the Palestinians; and the ability to move back to the lands they or their families left.

Almost no Palestinian questions the demand for Israel’s recognition of the right to return; many, however, now say returning is becoming less and less feasible.
Why should Israel accept that it was 'responsible' for creating the 'Palestinians' plight? Israel begged the 'Palestinians' to stay(!) while their Arab brethren urged them to leave so that they could murder all the Jews by throwing them into the sea. Then, during all the years when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria and Egypt controlled Gaza, no 'Palestinian state' was created, and the 'Palestinians' were left to languish in 'refugee camps' at international (UNRWA) expense in the vain hope of one day finishing off what their Arab brethren could not do in 1948. In 1967, the Arab nations tried again, producing even more 'refugees,' and when Israel would have been willing to reach any deal with them, the Arab states instead produced the "three no's of Khartoum": No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel. Forty years later, only one of those no's (negotiations) has been violated.

For those Israelis who think we are going to make peace with the 'Palestinians' and that they will agree to drop this issue, which cannot be resolved with Israel remaining a Jewish state, think again:
But the prevailing Palestinian view is that the right of return is at the core of the dispute.

The issue of the refugees is the Palestinian problem,” said Talat Abu Othman, chairman of the Jordanian chapter of the Committee to Protect the Right of Return, an independent Palestinian organization. “The rest, Jerusalem, the settlements and the Palestinian Authority are details. It is not about getting a few inches here or there, it is about the return itself. And even by demanding our return, we are walking away from some of our rights.”
The Times tries to reassure us that in the end they won't want to come back. All they want is a little apology and a lot of money:
Most Palestinians who fled to Jordan were granted citizenship and today account for well over half of the country’s population. Palestinian refugees living elsewhere, however, have survived with few rights and no citizenship.

A few Palestinians in Jordan now propose a more negotiable stance that seeks recognition from the Israelis, but also offers terms for restitution.

The right of return “is my right, which I have inherited from my parents and grandparents,” said Maha Bseis, 39, a Palestinian whose family comes from Jerusalem. “But if I have the right, I will not return because I was born and grew up here.”

In 2003, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in one of the most comprehensive surveys conducted on the subject, found that most Palestinians would be unlikely to move if they were granted the right of return.

“Once the Palestinian narrative is assured, then the tactical issue of where they will go becomes easy to approach,” said Khalil Shikaki, who directs the center. “Everybody wants the emotional question addressed; everybody is happy with the likely modalities.”

He added, “The novel aspect of the survey is, once we gave assurances about the right of return, the other issues became very resolvable,” meaning that many said they would take compensation and would not move.

For Abdallah Zalatimo, 41, the decision on where he will go was made long ago. Born in the United States while his father, a physician from a prominent Jerusalem family, was doing his specialization, Mr. Zalatimo returned to Amman in 1976, before attending college in the United States.

In the late 1980s he opened a business making Arabic sweets that has grown to include shops in several Arab countries with several million dollars in revenues.

“What right do I have to ask for awda when I am here and content?” Mr. Zalatimo said, using an Arabic word for return. “We’ve been accepting less and less every year. What are we holding out for?”

Mr. Zalatimo said the nearly singular focus of many Palestinian refugees on returning detracted from the daily hardships of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, people who had far fewer options and whose conditions were far worse.

“I think the Palestinian cause today is about helping the Palestinians in the occupied territories to live a better life,” Mr. Zalatimo said. “My pressing issue is to solve the problems of the Palestinians that are living there.”
Alas, focusing on the 'Palestinians' in Jordan clouds the issue. Jordan is the only country in the Arab world that has granted some of its 'Palestinians' citizenship. If the 'Palestinians' are allowed to 'return,' does anyone really think that all the stateless 'refugees' who are being held prisoner in camps in Lebanon and Syria and Egypt and Iraq will not return? And if they choose not to return, does anyone really believe that the likes of Bashar al-Assad or Hassan Nasrallah or Hosni Mubarak will not forcibly expel them from their homes and force them to return?

If Israel concedes this issue even slightly, it will be opening the floodgates. If Israel concedes this issue even slightly, there will no longer be a Jewish state.

And this is without even considering that the numbers of 'refugees' are grossly inflated anyway. UNRWA counts anyone who wants to be counted as a 'refugee.' We cannot and should not.


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