VIENNA - The third Palestinians in Europe Convention has strongly defended the inalienable right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
The final statement urged all Palestinian organizations championing the right of return to act in unison to make the dream of millions of Palestinians come true.
“The right of return is sacrosanct. It is the core of the just Palestinian cause and a bedrock of the Palestinian sovereignty,” Palestinian Chief Justice Taysir Al-Tamimi told the conference, which wrapped up on Saturday, May 7.
“This right derives its legitimacy from UN Security Council resolution 194, which becomes irrelevant if this right is downtrodden,” he added, warning of US and Jewish schemes to settle Palestinian refugees in Arab and European countries.
The participants signed up to symbolic documents, pledging not to give up their right to return home.
Millions of Palestinians were driven out of their homes in the 1948 and 1967 wars and constitute today up to eight million people, according to the Palestinian Statistics Agency.
Most of whom are living in destitution in refugee camps inside the occupied territories, and in bordering Arab states, particularly Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
The rest are scattered across the Arab world, the US and Europe.
In what has been termed as the Bushfour declaration, US President George W. Bush in April last year said the refugees should be settled in a future Palestinian state rather than what is now Israel.
The first Palestinian atlas was launched in March to document for the generations to come territories usurped and occupied by Israeli troops.
Up to 50,000 maps charting Palestinian sites that date back to 1799 are found in the English-language geographical encyclopedia.
The final communiqué further expressed deep concern at the increasing threats to occupied East Jerusalem “the capital of Palestine and attempts to Judaize the holy city to obliterate its Arab identity whether through annexation or suspicious deals.”
The statement was referring to the sale of Palestinian land to ideologically-motivated Jewish investors by Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church Irineos I.
The patriarch was officially fired Friday, May 6, over his involvement in the deal, which was confirmed by his financial aide Nikos Papadimas.
Archimandrite Attallah Hanna, the spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Church, said the conference helps keep the issue of Jerusalem vivid.
“The serious threats to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Christian waqfs in the holy city have sounded the alarm and made us cautious about peace blueprints imposed by the other,” he told the conference over the phone from Jerusalem.
Palestinian experts warned last month that threats by Jewish extremists to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, had a more serious religious undertone as they believed that 2005 was the year for the construction of the so-called third temple.
Archeologists further warned that ongoing Israeli excavations weakened the foundations of the mosque, cautioning it would not stand a powerful earthquake.
The controversial West Bank separation wall was also high on the agenda of the conference with calls for an immediate stop to the continued construction of “this distasteful Zionist project.”
The conference also featured Palestinian nationalist songs by the gifted Al-Itesam group, which allocates its yields to the Palestinian cause.
The first Palestinians in Europe conference was held on March 19, 2003 in the British capital London. The German capital Berlin hosted the second conference in May 2004.
I probably missed a bunch, too.