|Israel Resource Review
||15th May, 2006
Official Publications of the Palestinian Authority:
The Sacredness of the Right of Return
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (p. 10) [May 14] - The participants in
the activities to commemorate the Nakba in Ramallah demanded on Saturday
the reactivation of the PLO Department of Refugee Affairs to preserve
the rights of the refugees, the unity of the Palestinian people at home
and in exile and to defend the right of return. [.]
The participants recommended the development of school curricula in a
way that would allow the students and the future generations to know
about the suffering of our people and their right to return to their
homeland and to uphold this right, which is the responsibility of the
Palestinian generations to come. They stressed the need to preserve and
to expand the refugee camps since they are an eyewitness testimonial to
the Nakba, and demanded that their living conditions be improved until
the time comes for their return to their lands and homes from which they
The participants also recommended the production of educational
documentaries and animated movies about the Nakba and the right of
Former PLC member, Jamal A-Shati said, "The right of return cannot be
dropped with the passage of time; it cannot be divided and no one can
pass laws pertaining to it because it is above all the laws." [.]
RIGHT OF RETURN CONFERENCE
Al-Ayyam (p 7)
by Hassan Jaber [May 14]
Academics and researchers participating in the Political and Intellectual
Conference for the Defense of the Right of Return demanded that Israel admit
to its political, legal and moral responsibility for the creation of the
refugee problem as a path to make it [Israel] commit to allowing them to
return to their lands and to compensate them for the harm done to them.
The conference was organized by the Palestinian Popular Society for
the Defense of the Right of Return and was held at the Rashad Shawa
Cultural Center in Gaza City. The participants of the conference
stressed that the right of return for the refugees was a right that
would be neither abandoned nor dropped under any circumstances.
The participants demanded that the Palestinian Authority and all the
forces form a clear national plan that would enable the refugees to
build their social and popular organizations to protect the refugees'
right to return and to resist the plans of settlement.
The participants, who represented different organizations, forces and
parties, pointed out the importance of unifying the efforts of the
refugees' movement for the defense of the right of return and remaining
armed with UN resolutions in favor of the right of return and
They declared their rejection of all the resettlement programs that
were proposed by various organizations and parties, saying that the
region would never have a just and comprehensive peace without the
refugees' exercising their right to return and compensation.
They demanded that UNRWA continue to provide its services to the
refugees while taking into consideration the natural annual increase in
their number and needs.
They called for enabling the popular movement to pressure UNRWA to
keep its services through memos, sit in strikes and demonstrations
against decreasing or closing services or sectors.
In the first session Abdullah Hourani, the general coordinator of the
organizing society, spoke about the unofficial settlement projects and
the danger they posed to the right of return. Hourani said that the
refugees' cause at all the phases of the conflict has prompted
discussion and investigation into possible methods of settlement, given
the regional and international reality. This, however, was done without
any consideration for the refugees' own will, and often was done in
violation of international law about refugees in general and in
violation of international resolutions about the Palestinian refugees'
cause both before and after 1967. Hourani said that the refugees and
their political committees had succeeded in foiling many such plans and
Hourani stressed the importance of devising a detailed Palestinian
and Arab alternative to the proposed solutions, saying: "When it comes
to negotiations, it's not enough to reject the alternatives proposed by
the other side." [.]
Hourani stressed that the preservation of UNRWA is in itself a means
to perpetuating the international responsibility for the cause. He said,
"Watching the movements of UNRWA while taking into consideration that
this is an organization that is not completely innocent of the suspicion
of dismantling the cause of the return, is a necessary matter at this
Dr. Khaled Safi, a lecturer at Al-Aqsa University, said: "The lack of
unity among the Palestinian people increases fear for the right of
return, especially after the agreements reached in Oslo and Cairo and
the weakness in negotiating that the Palestinian leadership showed
concerning fateful causes such as the refugees' rights."
Safi said, "The deliberate and systematic forced absence of the PLO
and the marginalization of its size, role and the weakening of its
institutions has allowed some to dare to go against the right of return
and sign agreements and documents that violate the right of return, such
as the Geneva Agreement."
In the second session, Suleiman Fahmawi, the spokesman of the Society
for the Defense of the Rights of the Displaced Persons inside the Green
Line, submitted a paper on their rights and struggle. The paper was read
by Hassan Sarsour. He said, "For 58 years, the Zionist movement has
failed in its conspiracy to erase the memory of the Nakba and to cancel
the sacred right of return."
He said, "Despite all the brutal means used against the Palestinian
people, part of this nation managed to stay on its land and to preserve
its Palestinian identity and character."
He stated that the various Israeli governments have passed many
unjust laws that targeted the Palestinian lands and confiscated them
under the absentee landlord law, and stopped their owners from
exercising their legitimate right to demand regaining their right to
He said, "After the Oslo Accords that attempted to separate the sons
of one nation inside the Green Line and in exile, a group of young
people concerned about the right of return became active among the
displaced people to establish the demand for return and never to give up
this sacred right."
He said that there are about 270,000 displaced people inside the Green
Line and most of them live near their original villages. [.]
In the Third session, Yunis Al-Katri read a paper that was submitted
by Dr. Mohammed Al-Azar about the Arab position on the right of return.
Al-Azar said, "The Arab and Palestinian initiatives for a settlement
do not clearly make reference to the term, the right of return, and the
need to be committed to it by means of the implementation of UN
resolutions, most importantly, Resolution 194; instead, they lean
towards indirect and what seems to be circumlocutious terminology." He
added, "The terms are more flexible when it comes to the right of
return," when compared to the concept of liberation. He said, "The Arab
peace agreements weakened some of the historical and legal Palestinian
rights, including the right of return, when Israel was recognized
without first imposing the condition that it implements the right of
return. [Either that] or they [the Arab peace agreements] relatively
dropped it from their calculations when they recognized the full Israeli
sovereignty over the lands that fell under Israeli control before 1967
including the parts that it occupied outside UN Partition Resolution
Samir, Abu Muddalala, the director of the Center for the Refugee
Studies and a member of the Popular Committee of the Refugees at the
Jabalya refugee camp, spoke about the change in the task of UNRWA and
the political, social and living effects on the refugees. [.]
He said that UNRWA blames the constant decrease in services and
budget on the lack of commitment by the donors to their pledges. He said
that the decrease in UNRWA's services is "a result of a deliberate
policy being implemented by UNRWA at the direction of the most
influential among the donor countries, and it aims at pushing the
refugees to decrease their dependence on the agency's services and to
seek local alternatives or to seek personal salvation by immigrating to
He called on the PA to look take care of the refugees, to improve
their living conditions and to provide them with the necessary services
by including the camps in the development plan and by offering an
installment plan for paying for water and electricity to make life
easier for the refugees.
Jawdat Jouda read a paper written by Salman Natour, the director of
the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa.
He said that with the passage of time the Israelis have come to realize
that they cannot talk about peace without talking about the Nakba and
the right of return.
He said, "In the past, the topic of return and Nakba were taboo, but
now they talk about it in the newspapers, universities and the cultural
organizations and they listen, sometimes with anxiety, to the
Palestinian who tells them about what they did in 1948."
He pointed out that the conference of "The Right of Return and Just
Peace" that was held in Haifa on March 26-28, 2004 that was attended by
Israeli Jews, "untangled the knot in their minds about the Nakba and the
right of return and a just peace." He said that after the conference,
the number of the Israeli Jewish organizations that want to know about
the Nakba has increased.
He said, "Since the conference, I've been invited to many lectures
and seminars to talk about the Nakba in addition to performances of the
play "Memory," which was translated into Hebrew and is attended by a
Jewish audience that is not smaller than the Arab one."
He added, "After every show or lecture, a Jewish woman approaches me
with tears in her eyes and asks: Is this really what we did to you?"
He said, "No one can erase the right of return."
Natour said that the Israelis fear peace and they talk about peace
using the concepts of war and they want to keep nuclear weapons "for
peace" and they want to keep their army on the Jordan River "for peace."
He asked, "If peace requires all this armament, what kind of peace is
that? Peace cancels all these security measures."
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The UNRWA Connection to the UNION OF GOOD
Charitable Collection Umbrella
On March 21st, 2006, the official Palestinian publication, Al Hayat Al Jedida
reported that the PA Minister of Public Works, Ziad Al Zadda, acts as the
deputy to the chief engineer of UNRWA in Gaza and is also the representative
of Yusuf Karadei's UNION OF GOOD, which has been identified as the umbrella
organization for distributing funds to fifty organizations connected with the HAMAS.
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