Friday, April 18, 2008

Today, Mahmoud Abbas in Russia gave a stinging response to the suggestion that Palestinian Arabs living in Lebanon become Lebanese citizens I believe the statement is somewhere in this video but I did not look at the entire interview. Here is Palestine Press' description (autotranslated):
President Mahmoud Abbas denied today, the accuracy of the news reports about the possibility of settling Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

He said in an interview with satellite channel Russia Today that the idea was an "unacceptable and irreversible abrogation of the right to return, and we are guests in Lebanon, in the interest of us in the internal problems in this brotherly country, and assure the Lebanese brothers that the resettlement of refugees in their country is rejected. We will not accept it."

He explained that President Abbas Palestinian Lebanese relations entered in the task of reconciliation after being terminated bygone era.
Now, why exactly would citizenship in Lebanon abrogate the "right of return" for Palestinian Arabs? Is it impossible for them to become Lebanese citizens and then, should the opportunity arise, immigrate to a Palestinian Arab state under the "right of return?"

These people have lived for generations in miserable UNRWA camps, run by thugs, infiltrated by terrorists, with few human rights and sever restrictions on movement and jobs. If Lebanon would grant them full citizenship then they can become productive members of society while maintaining their identity as "Palestinian" and maintaining their "right of return." Why is Abbas so dead-set against this happening, and why is he fighting against justice for a significant proportion of the people he claims to represent as leader of the PLO?

The reason is obvious although rarely mentioned. Abbas knows that Palestinian identity is weak. If Palestinian Arabs had the opportunity to become full citizens in Arab countries, they would jump at the chance (as, indeed, Lebanese Palestinian Arabs did in 1994). They would never consider moving to a Palestinian Arab state afterwards, because most Arabs self-identify as merely Arabs, not by the artificial national boundaries imposed on them by the West after World War I.

And once they become happy Lebanese citiens they would be of no more use as political pawns and cannon fodder, and of no use to Mahmoud Abbas.

See my more elaborate posting from February when Abbas said something similar.

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