Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit on Sunday stressed the importance of the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, which is a top priority for Jordan.Is Jordan really keen on the rights of Palestinian Arabs to "return" to their homes?
During a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman yesterday, Bakhit said Jordan is concerned about recognition of the right of return before discussions on the mechanisms to implement it.
During His Majesty King Abdullah’s meeting with US President Barack Obama recently in Washington, the King underlined the firm Arab stance regarding Palestinians’ legitimate rights and that reaching a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be at the top of the global political agenda, Bakhit said.
Abbas voiced appreciation for the King’s supportive stances towards the Palestinian people in international forums, stressing that King Abdullah’s positions are in line with the Palestinian national principled stands.
Abbas underlined the importance of Israel’s recognition of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and compensation, adding that it should also recognise Jerusalem as part of the occupied Arab territories.
In Jordan, in the town of Jerash, is a "refugee" camp that is mostly made up of Gazans who fled in 1967. It is even known as the "Gaza camp." Some 24,000 people live there.
The homes that the Jerash Palestinians want to return to are not in Israel, but in Gaza. Moreover, Gazans in Jordan do not enjoy the benefits of citizenship so they are living in really wretched conditions with very few human rights.
If Jordan is so interested in the "right to return," then why aren't they insisting that the Jerash camp be dismantled and the people go back to Gaza? Right now, there is nothing stopping Jordan from arranging safe passage through Egypt to Gaza. They can go back and claim their old homes, just like the other "refugees" want to do in Israel.
So why is there no Arab demand that Jerash residents go to Gaza?
The same UNRWA money being used to maintain the camp in Jordan can be redirected to Gaza. No doubt there would be plenty of international support for building new shelters if necessary. Free Gaza and the IHH would contribute all the money needed, as would Arab nations who are interested in the "right to return."
After all, these people lost their homes and want to go back. This is the essence of "return."
It is a consensus position among Arabs. Israel can't stop them at the Rafah border. So what's the problem?
The Jerash residents themselves clearly want to go back to Gaza. From 2005:
As children in the street chanted "Gaza is liberated," 65-year-old Ayed Suleiman Abu-Hashish broke into tears.
"I can't wait to go back," he said. "I bet it has changed a lot since I left nearly 40 years ago."
For many in this squalid refugee camp, Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip (search), which began Monday, revived hopes they could return to homes they fled in the 1967 Middle East War.
Could it be that Arab idea of "return" is only to parts of "historic Palestine" and not to others? And those parts all happen to be Israeli?
The fact that Jerash exists today, six years after Israel left Gaza, without anyone calling for it to be dismantled, shows that the Arab demand for "return" has nothing to do with their feelings towards their Palestinian brethren - and has everything to do with destroying Israel.
(h/t Sabril, Joel)