Fatah Central Committee Member: Palestinian Concessions Not The Road To Solving Refugee Problem


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Special Dispatch from MEMRI.org

In a February 24, 2014 article in the Jerusalem daily Al-Quds, titled "The Palestinian Refugees In Kerry's Proposals," Fatah Central Committee member Dr. Jamal Muheisen called on Israel to recognize its responsibility for the refugee problem. He stated that its doing so would allow the Palestinians to show flexibility and political realism on the path to implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 194, which is aimed at solving this problem. Claiming that a realistic and rational solution to the refugee problem does not require Palestinian concessions, Muheisen said that the refugees should not be asked to forgo their right of return as part of the solution, because this right is the collective and personal right of every individual Palestinian. He added that he personally would choose to return to his village of 'Iraq Al-Manshia, which was located within the 1948 borders.

The following are excerpts from the article:

Dr. Jamal Muheisen

"During the intensifying political debate, in the circles of the negotiations and of the international and regional meetings and discussions, regarding the initiative of [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry, this proposal vis-à-vis the Palestinian refugees headed the public discourse in the Palestinian, Arab, and international arenas.

"From a deeply [rooted] starting point, and in recognition of the political facts and of the need for dealing with them based on adherence to the [Palestinian] national principles, we must courageously deal with these proposals. Therefore [it is important] for the official Palestinian position to be known to every Palestinian citizen in the homeland and abroad. This [knowledge] will strengthen and establish our Palestinian strategy, which relies on the Palestinian people and its right to self-determination, on [its right] to determine its own national and political options; on the adherence to the principles, and on the development of Palestinian action. [All this] is aimed at opening the path to a possible political achievement, in light of [current] regional and international circumstances and the [global] balances of power...

"Fatah is now the one that has a feasible plan. It was not borne away to imaginary regions in its strategic perceptions – [unlike] some [others] who seek to perpetuate the struggle, the refugees, and the diaspora under slogans that can never come true.

"It is the role and duty of every leadership to develop the requisite tools and conditions for national and political [self-]determination... Fatah did this when it launched the revolution and led the armed struggle, and  it does it today when it leads the negotiations.

"The Fatah leadership, headed by the brother president [Mahmoud ‘Abbas] is running a real campaign for political achievement, and is responding to the American proposals in accordance with how close they are to our own goals and principles. We handled Kerry's proposal on the refugees based on our own national principles, and demanded that Israel bear its legal and international responsibility, according to the international legitimacy, for its expulsion of our people, and that it recognize Resolution 194, which guarantees the right of return and reparations.

"If Israel recognizes its responsibility for the refugee problem, we can courageously and responsibly deal with the proposals for implementing Resolution 194 and for ways of implementing it in accordance with any initiative that meshes with our steadfast rights. And, if Kerry's proposals on this issue give a Palestinian four [options]... – to return to the Palestinian state, to remain where he is and receive restitution, to [move] to some specific other country and receive restitution, or for a limited return of some of our people to Israel, [the last of] which the Israeli government still opposes – then we call on Kerry, for the sake of his initiative's success, to focus his efforts and pressure on the side that is holding up the initiative. All the proposals submitted by Mr. Kerry on this issue are still being rejected by the Israeli government...

"The issue of return in accordance with the international legitimacy remains a national, collective, and personal right. No one can force the Palestinians [to accept] no [chance of] return, because [returning] is up to the free choice of every Palestinian in the diaspora and every refugee in the homeland. I personally, for example, choose my right to return to my village, 'Iraq Al-Manshia, the land of my father and my father's fathers. This is the free choice of every Palestinian, and the American proposal must be in accordance with this [and must offer] every individual the option of either returning or remaining where he is and receiving restitution. Palestinians in Lebanon, for example, cannot become [Lebanese] citizens – because doing so is unacceptable both to them and to the Lebanese state.

"The success of the American initiative depends on the [extent] to which it meets the rights of the Palestinian and his freedom to choose how to realize Resolution 194. In any case, Israel's position still renounces the international legitimacy and the right of the Palestinians, and throws spanners in the works of Kerry's initiative – which requires the U.S. administration to pressure the Israeli government. We are convinced that the American administration has the tools, if it chooses to use them, to pressure Israel – as with the understandings on the Iranian issue [i.e. Geneva] which happened over Israel's objections...

"Solving the Palestinian refugee problem is considered one of the foundations of international stability, and serves global peace and security. It is not distinct from the U.S. administration's international and regional interests, because the refugee issue is considered the heart of the Palestinian problem and one of the most explosive aspects of the conflict in the region. The U.S. administration must decide whether it lays out its policy based on its own interests, or whether it bends it to Israel's interests – even if the latter are contrary to or even endanger U.S. interests.

"The realistic and rational way to deal with the issue of the refugees is not with Palestinian concessions but with boldly dealing with it through [displays of] international and regional responsibility, and with the international community and the Occupation State [i.e. Israel] taking responsibility for it. Then, the Palestinians will undoubtedly show the flexibility and political realism discussed in the Arab Initiative, on which the Palestinians and 57 Arab and Islamic states agreed."