Right now it seems as if the second biggest roadblock between Israel and Peace with her neighbors is the Palestinian “Right of Return” (the first being that Israel’s neighbors want to blow her to smithereens). But there has been more talk about this “right” lately and what is meant by UN 194 than I can remember in a long time. There is so much disinformation about the resolution that it is almost comic. No one mentions the fact that the resolution was not designed to answer the refugee problem, it was written to create a commission that would negotiate peace between the parties (the commission was formed but the Arabs declined to attend).
The mention of refugees was :
refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date … [R]epatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation [should be facilitated].
A few points here.
- The Arab states voted against this resolution because it did not call for a right of return.
- Refugees wishing to return to THEIR HOMES. Its specifically calling for those refugees who left. Not their Grand children’s cousins and brother-in-laws raised in America.
- It doesn’t say ARAB refugees, so it also applies to the Jewish ones.
- The resolution talks about those willing to live at peace with their neighbors—I don’t see any Palestinian Parties calling for recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
- When you add to the fact that it is a General Assembly resolution (as opposed to a security council) you realize that the whole darn thing has no more weight than the General Assembly’s week resolutions condemning Israel for everything from New Coke to Don Imus’ gross comments about the Rutgers Basketball team.
Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser has taken a far more practical approach to the Right of Return. In a series of columns for the Kuwaiti paper Al-Siyass he argues quite effectively that the calls for the “Right of Return” should be dropped because it is totally impractical. The only solution is to allow those refugees to become “official” citizens in the countries they live in right now. MEMRI has translated and summarized those articles below:
Saudi Columnist: ‘The Right of Return Is an Illusion’
In two recent articles in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan argued that the Palestinian refugees’ right of return is an idea that cannot be implemented, and that the only solution is for the refugees to be naturalized in the countries where they currently reside.
The following are excerpts from the articles:
The Right of Return – An Idea that Cannot Be Implemented
In the first article, published March 5, 2007 and titled “On the Impossible [Idea] of the Right of Return,” Al-Sweidan wrote: “…The slogan ‘right of return’… which is brandished by Palestinian organizations, is perceived as one of the greatest difficulties and as the main obstacle to renewing and advancing the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on the Road Map and a two-state solution.
“It is patently obvious that uprooting the descendents of the refugees from their current homes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and other countries, and returning them to Israel, to the West Bank, and to Gaza is a utopian ideal and [a recipe for] anarchy. More than that – it is an idea that cannot be implemented, not only because it will upset the demographic [balance] in a dangerous and destructive manner, and will have [far-reaching] political, economic and social ramifications in such a small and constrained geographical area, but [mainly] because the return [of the refugees] stands in blatant contradiction to Israel’s right as a sovereign [state], while the Palestinian Authority lacks the infrastructure to absorb such a large number of immigrants as long as the peace process… is not at its peak…”
The Refugee Problem is the Result of Mistakes By the Host Countries
“Clearly, the refugee problem is mainly the result of cumulative mistakes made by the countries where [the refugees] live… such as Syria and Lebanon, which have isolated the refugees in poor and shabby camps lacking the most basic conditions for a dignified human existence. Instead of helping them to become fully integrated in their new society, they let them become victims of isolation and suffering… Later, the worst of all happened when Arab intelligence agencies used the Palestinian organizations as a tool for settling scores in internal Arab conflicts that probably have nothing to do with the Palestinians…
“The Israelis, on the other hand, were civilized and humane in their treatment of the thousands of Jewish refugees who had lost their property, homes and businesses in the Arab countries, and who were forced to emigrate to Israel after the 1948 war. The Israeli government received them, helped them, and provided them with all the conditions [they needed] to become integrated in their new society…
“The lies of the Syrian Ba’th regime, and its trading in slogans like ‘right of return,’ ‘steadfastness,’ ‘resistance,’ ‘national struggle,’ and all the other ridiculous [slogans], are evident from the fact that, to this day, dozens of Palestinian families [remain] stranded in the desert on the Syrian-Iraqi border, because the Syrian regime refuses to let them enter its horrifying Ba’th republic and return to the Yarmouk [refugee] camp.
“The Arab countries where the Palestinians live in refugee camps must pass the laws necessary to integrate the inhabitants of these camps into society. [In addition, they must] provide them with education and health services, and allow them freedom of occupation and movement and the right to own real estate, instead of [continuing] their policy of excluding [the refugees] and leaving the responsibility [of caring for them] to others, while marketing the impossible illusion of return [to Palestine]…”(1)
The Refugees Don’t Need Another 60 Years of Misery
In the second article, published March 16, 2007 and titled “Naturalization is the Solution,” Al-Sweidan wrote: “There is no doubt that the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon – who have for many long years been fed by their Arab hosts on impossible dreams and on shiny promises that were soon broken – do not need another 60 years of misery, wretchedness and suffering… in order to figure out for the thousandth time that all the talk about the ‘bridge of return’ is [nothing but] nonsense and deceit – a fairytale that exists only in the old, worn-out demagogy of the Arab propaganda…
“In reality, there is no ‘bridge [of return]’… except for the bridge that we now must pass… called the peace process and normalization of relations between the Arabs and Israel. Undoubtedly, the Arabs cannot continue to avoid the implementation [of the peace process], which brooks no further delay. [Any delay] will have a heavy price for the Arab societies in the present and in the future, considering the sharp strategic changes [occurring] in the Middle East. [These changes] demand an immediate and final solution to the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and [require] the two sides to direct their joint energies and efforts towards confronting the Iranian nuclear threat which imperils us all.”
The Inevitable Solution is to Naturalize the Refugees in the Host Countries
“As the Middle East peace process gains momentum, and as the regional and international forces remain committed to the need to resolve this [conflict]… there is a growing necessity for a realistic, unavoidable and bold decision that will provide a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees by naturalizing them in the host countries, such as Syria, Lebanon, and other countries.
“Even though this is a humanitarian [project], it requires intensive efforts on the legislative, economic, logistic, and administrative levels, in order to integrate the Palestinians organically into the social, economic and political fabric of the Arab societies…
“By every conceivable and accepted criterion, naturalizing the refugees [in the Arab countries] is the inevitable solution to [this] chronic humanitarian problem. The fact that [this solution] constitutes an important part of the overall peace process and of the historic reconciliation between the Arabs and the Israelis will help to reinforce [the naturalization process] and to perpetuate it.”(2)
(1) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), March 5, 2007.
(2) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), March 16, 2007.