Thursday, July 01, 2010

I was astonished to find this quote from Mahmoud Abbas in 2005:

In an unexpected move, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called upon Arab countries hosting Palestinian refugees to give them citizenship, asserting that such action would not compromise the Right of Return. "I call upon every Arab government wishing to give citizenship [to Palestinian refugees] to do so.

The Palestinian Authority president insisted that obtaining citizenship in a host country would not compromise the refugees' right to return to their homeland. Palestinians have sought to assert this right since being forced from their homeland 50 years ago.

Abbas explained: "This does not mean resettlement [of refugees]. A Palestinian would return to his homeland whenever he is allowed, whether he carried an Arab or non-Arab citizenship."

In the interview, Abbas criticized claims that the Arab League had banned naturalization of refugees, calling these claims "mere excuses."

"There is no decision, as the Arab League only recommended [not to grant citizenship], but this was not a decision," he said, referring to the recommendation made in the early 1950s when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

While Abbas boldly stated during his visit to Lebanon that he "speaks for all Palestinians," a number of Palestinian officials and refugees in Lebanon disagree with his push for citizenship. Some expressed great surprise over his statement.

Suhail Natour, a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said: "It comes as a great surprise, as this move is very dangerous."

Natour explained: "Once a Palestinian becomes a citizen of another country, he can't claim his right of return to Israel, as Israel can easily turn around and say, 'you now have a country and can't claim refugee status.'"

"Slowly, as more Palestinian refugees get naturalized, the Right of Return will turn from a national case to a mere personal case against Israel," he said.

According to Natour, naturalizing Palestinian refugees would add to what are "already" serious legal, political and social problems involved with the Right of Return.
Notice that they interview a leader of a terrorist organization as a representative of Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon to say they oppose the right to be naturalized citizens - but they didn't interview any real citizens. As usual, self-appointed "leaders" do everything they can to quash their people they are supposedly leading.

On the cached Lebanese forum page from which I found the rest of the Daily Star article, one of the members posted in reaction to this:

Do you think the 350,000 Palestinians in the refugee camps want to be here? Me and my buddies are a group of five guys. One of them is Palestinian who lives in Kfarchima. Four of us are not in Lebanon, scattered between the US, Canada and Australia. The only one left behind is the Palestinian guy, who is stuck in Lebanon with no future to look forward to, and not being able to leave Lebanon because he's not able to get either a travel document from the Lebanese authorities, or a visa to get out...

Abbas must have been pilloried for making his pro-naturalization statement, because he changed his tune pretty quickly after this rare show of true leadership. In 2008, he completely contradicted his 2005 statement:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted Wednesday as rejecting the naturalization of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. "We would never accept any settlement that leads to naturalizing Palestinians in Lebanon," Abbas told pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
And in 2009, he went even beyond that:

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon will not be offered Palestinian Authority passports, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday following his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman at the Republican Palace.

Abbas’ remark quashed recent rumors concerning the issuing of PA passports to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon...
Abbas could have acted as the conscience of the Arab world and pushed for his people to have the right to live in dignity - and he instead (apparently) caved to pressure and now advocates keeping his people in misery, as permanent second-class citizens in their host countries, without even the basic ability to leave their hellholes of "refugee" camps.

What a great leader the Palestinian Arabs have!

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