zondag, april 01, 2007
For Palestinian refugees, return is not a question
Well then - here we have it....
For Palestinian refugees, return is not a question
4.5 million Palestinian refugees live in dozens of refugee camps across the Middle East in precarious conditions.
By Sakher Abu El Oun - JABALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza
At 85, Abdelrahman al-Mabhuh still believes he will one day leave his miserable refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and return to lands that were once his in neighbouring Israel.
"The Israelis will be defeated and chased off our country. I saw it in a dream, it will happen in 11 years," he is sure.
The Jabaliya refugee camp is today the biggest Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East, where over 106,000 people live in density and squalor.
Mabhuh is one of about 760,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven away from their homes in the months before and following the creation of the Jewish state in May 1948.
Almost 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live today in dozens of refugee camps across the Middle East in precarious conditions, and their plight is seen as the biggest stumbling block to peace.
Israel vehemently rejects any suggestions of a return for the refugees, arguing the influx would effectively erase the Jewish character of the state, while Palestinians view the right of return as sacred in solving the decades-old conflict.
When Arab states unanimously adopted this week a plan offering full normalisation of ties with Israel in exchange for the return of all occupied Arab lands, creation of a Palestinian state and the return of refugees, the Jewish state balked at the latter element of the Arab peace plan.
But the recent flurry of peace diplomacy hardly left an impression on Mabhuh, who grew up in the today-vanished village of Batani just a few kilometres (miles) away from the Gaza Strip.
The right of return is not subject to any negotiations, he says.
"We will never give up. They chased us away from our paradise and we have since fought for our return," he says as he adjusts the keffieh chequered scarf on his head.
Like many Palestinian refugee families, Mabhuh has kept the key to his Batani home, a symbol of his desire to return and of the Palestinian national cause.
The grandparents of 40-year-old Suheila al-Taluli lived before the 1948 war in the village of Dimra, not far from Batani, and again of which no trace has remained.
"My grandmother told me before she died many stories about her village. She would often break down in tears from the memories and pain," she says.
"She raised her children on love of the cause. One of them died as a martyr and others are today in Israeli prisons," she says.
Sitting in front of her ramshackle home, Taluli's neighbour, Latifa al-Hilu, is too old to remember her age, but she keeps a vivid image of her home in the village of Beit Jirja where today stands an Israeli community.
"It was a beautiful two-storey house. My father fell sick when he heard that it was destroyed after we left," she says.
"We lived there comfortably with the income from our fields. Today we live on humanitarian aid, but we will return one day," she promises.
"Nothing in this world will make me give up my right of return. Jabaliya is not my home. Home is the village where my parents and grandparents were born and sooner or later we will return," says Suheila, whose family also came from Dimra.
According to the United Nations, Palestinian refugees and their descendants numbered 4.45 million by the end of 2006, with 1.85 million living in Jordan, 442,363 in Syria and 408,438 in Lebanon, in a total of 95 camps.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that the return of any Palestinian refugee was "out of the question".
"I'll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number," the premier said in an interview to the Jerusalem Post English-language daily.
No hope for progress, because the past will haunt and tries to take over the future
People are and will die for it
Is it worth it?
Is land actually worth the life of human beings?
Why are they being kept in those conditions anyway?
Nobody ever asked himself that question?
Why aren't they given the chance to live in decency and dignity and care for their future generations?
"If Israel gives me a tent I would go back to my land tomorrow," he says.
Zeinab, his wife, is from the same village. She says that they would unwilling to accept any form of compensation for the lost land.
"They could fill this house with gold and I still wouldn't accept it," she says.
"I remember my village like I remember that I need to pray," says Zeinab. "I will never forget my village."
As Zeinab speaks, one of her 15 children, Youssef, gently nods in agreement.
I'm getting very depressed from this.........
If the 'Palestinians' (I use the term loosely) were to 'return' to Israel, then Israel would cease to exist. They know, you know, I know, this is war via demographics. It is not an option. Give them "return" and there will be no Israel. Moreover, they do not inherently deserve a return.
The 'Palestinians' have been kept in a state of deprivation due to the oppressive shonda leaders of the Arab world, who purposely oppress them. That's the bottom line.
If Arafat and his mafia didn't screw up during Oslo, they would have been settled in the West Bank or at least given compensation instead of having to wait another 60 years.
Red Tulips, I do not think a Palestinian right of return to Israel proper is a logical starting point for any debate, because even if I believed in it, it will never be accepted by Israel. It dooms us to another 100 years in the same camps.
That being said, the usage of the word Palestinian within quotation marks is quite insulting. You can disagree with the term, but you have to understand that, right wrong or indifferent, this an identity to which several million people ascribe, myself included.
I do not dispute the fact that there are refugees. I dispute the land claims of many of them, given the UN claims "Palestinian" is someone with two years (!) of ties to the land. It never did so before or since. On top of that, the "Palestinians" in the West Bank are suffering directly due to Jordan's repression of their rights. Israel had no control over the West Bank from 1948-1967, lest we forget.
In an ideal world, compensation would be given to those who actually DO have REAL land claims, and that would be that. This is my ideal solution, and it's good to see that you seem to be of like mind, Nizo.
But sadly, we do not live in an ideal world.
These refugees should be given enough aid to stand on their feet and be able to do something for living. They shouldn't sit in those camps, waiting for the destruction of Israel so they could return to their lands.
How long are they planning to wait? It's been almost 60 years. Don't you value your life more than the land where your home once was?
Says it all, doesn’t it!
These people have separated themselves from the rest of mankind with their inhuman behavior.
If they act less than human they should be treated as less than a human.
If a whole bunch of Arabs didn't screw up in 1948...we all would have saved a whole bunch of misery...ALL of us...
But it is what it is...I pray for a settlement, something fair and reasonable for all sides...I will even leave out the compensation for the Jews that got kicked out of Arab countries (my wife included) and let's get on with things..working together...we could build something wonderful and get rich together screwing tourists of THREE different religions instead of two!!!
But that begs the question of where the Palestinians would go. They are despised around the world, and no one will have them!
Ideally, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon would let these people into their nations - but they won't.
And Israel will be blamed. And the world media will swallow this up.
Pathetic state of world affairs we have.
The West Bank is one of those places, even if it can only handle a couple of hundred thousand.
Anyway, we're engaging in an ideological circle jerk, there won't be peace any time soon (with an islamic fundamentalist Pal govt. and a ball-less Olmert Peretz duo), so let's not waste our time dreaming up solutions for the 4 million refugees. At least I won't.
It's like talking about what to do with money you haven't won.
While most Palestinian officials insist that Israel permit the 1948 Palestinian refugees to return to their homes within Israel in any peace deal, Mr. Nusseibeh has renounced such a demand as unrealistic, shouting at Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian president, at one point: “Either you want an independent state or a policy aimed at returning all the refugees to Israel. You can’t have it both ways.”
And in perhaps the most unforgettable sentence in his book, Nusseibeh summarizes the situation this way: “The Jew seeks space to continue living, while the Arab defends his space to the death.” The observation is impartial, and chilling.