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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Arab countries' hostages

London's Independent has a lengthy report on the discrimination that the 'Palestinians' face in Arab countries. The Arab countries have done more than anyone else to perpetuate the 'Palestinians' refugee status. Reality is that even if a settlement is reached between Israel and the 'Palestinians,' the vast majority of these refugees will never 'return' to Israel or to a 'Palestinian' state. Where will they go? No one wants to discuss it.
In the unlikely event that President Obama's vision of a swift and final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict materialises, millions of Palestinians would still live in decaying refugee camps whose inhabitants are forbidden from owning land or participating in normal economic life. The only governing authority that Palestinians living in the camps have ever known is UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Established by the UN on 8 December 1949 to assist 650,000 impoverished Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war, UNRWA has been battling budget cuts and strikes among its employees as it struggles to provide subsidies and services to Palestinian refugees, who are defined as "persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948".


The inclusion of the descendants of Palestinian refugees as refugees in UNRWA's mandate has no parallel in international humanitarian law and is responsible for the growth of the official numbers of Palestinian refugees in foreign countries from 711,000 to 4.6 million during decades when the number of ageing refugees from the 1948 Israeli war of independence in was in fact declining. UNRWA's grant of refugee status to the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original Palestinian refugees according to the principle of patrilineal descent, with no limit on the generations that can obtain refugee status, has made it easy for host countries to flout their obligations under international law. According to Article 34 of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, "The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of refugees," and must "make every effort to expedite naturalisation proceedings" – the opposite of what happened to the Palestinians in every Arab country in which they settled, save Jordan. For all the easy criticism that can be levelled at UNRWA, it is hard to see how many Palestinian refugees would have survived without the agency's help.

The responsibility for the legal dimensions of their fate lies elsewhere, as UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd made clear at UNRWA's anniversary ceremony in New York on 24 September, before an audience that included Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Queen Rania of Jordan – herself a Palestinian. "The protracted exile of Palestine refugees and the dire conditions they endure, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territory, cannot be reconciled with state obligations under the UN Charter," AbuZayd said. The result for the refugees, AbuZayd said at a forum the previous afternoon at the Princeton Club, is a "suspended state of existence" for which no one seems willing to accept political responsibility. The rest of the discussion, moderated by Ambassador Kurtner, made clear that anticipated solutions to the Palestinian refugee problem had failed to emerge – leaving a community in crisis.

"You can't ignore an entire people because it's awkward or inconvenient," says Dr Karma Nabulsi, a lecturer at Oxford and a former Palestinian representative at the UN. In the period immediately after Oslo, she added, Palestinian refugees in Arab countries hoped to be repatriated to areas governed by the Palestinian Authority. Today, despair has replaced that initial optimism. "What young Palestinian would want to resettle in Gaza or in the West Bank?" she asks.
What's unsaid in this article is why the Arab states insisted on keeping the 'Palestinians' as refugees in the first place: Because they hoped (and still hope) to use them to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. The Arab states should be forced to resolve the problem that they have created. But they won't be.

Read the whole thing, but read it critically. Most of the responsibility for the tragedy of the 'Palestinians' lies with the Arab states.


At 5:25 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There will be no real solution to the Palestinian problem. Even in the unlikely event Israel was destroyed, its hard to imagine the Palestinians giving up their parasitic way of life involving dependency upon the rest of the world for the burdens of living as a free people in their own country. It is revealing that the Palestinians have repeatedly turned down statehood. Its not Israel that is obligated to offer them a country. That is something they have to work out for themselves and in the last 60 years they haven't done so and there appears to be no sign they will do it in the future.


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