Does Mahmoud Abbas have the right to refuse, on behalf of Palestinian refugees caught up in fighting in Syria, the reported condition set by Israel [that these Palestinian refugees give up their Right of Return to their original homes that may be in areas now inside Israel] — in order to allow these Palestinian refugees to come to into the West Bank now?
Well, he said in Cairo on Wednesday night [9 January] that he refused this reported Israeli condition — which he said was communicated to him by UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon — anyway.
Mahmoud Abbas and his delegated representatives have engaged in negotiations with Israelis for decades — and during this time, in some of these conversations, he was involved in conversations in which it was said, or rather speculated, that surely not every Palestinian refugee around the world would want to return to his/her original homes…
Some of these conversations, incoherent in part, full of innuendo that can’t be communicated by transcription, have been revealed in release of documents like the Al-Jazeera Palestine Papers.
In response, Palestinian critics have said that the Right of Return is an individual, not a collective right — and that Abbas had no right to give it up pr waive it in negotiations on behalf of each and every Palestinian.
Now, we are faced with the opposite situation.
It was Abbas himself who said, in mid-December, during fighting that had reportedly emptied 95% of Yarmouk Camp [which is now a suburb of Damascus], that Palestinians forced to flee that violence should be allowed to come to the West Bank.
He asked for the UN to help.
Now, we learn from a report in the Times of Israel today, that:
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected an Israeli offer to allow Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria to enter the Palestinian territories on condition that they forgo their ‘right of return’ to Israel proper, Abbas told the Egyptian press on Wednesday evening. Following a meeting with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Abbas said that he had appealed to the UN to intercede on behalf of Palestinian refugees living in Syriaand demand that Israel allow them to enter the West Bank and Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Abbas that Israel agreed to the request, on the condition that the refugees sign a document in which they forgo the ‘right of return’ to areas within Israel. Abbas said he rejected that condition”. This is published here.
The Associated Press, economizing with words, reported that:
“The fate of Palestinians uprooted by Israel’s creation is an explosive issue. Israel worries that a mass influx of Palestinians could destroy the notion of a Jewish state. Last month, Abbas asked the U.N. to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria’s civil war to the Palestinian territories. Abbas said in comments published Thursday that Israel linked its acceptance to refugees relinquishing claims to returning to what is now Israel. Abbas says ‘we rejected that’. Israeli officials declined comment”. This was published by the Washington Post here.
Did Mahmoud Abbas think his proposal to allow Palestinian refugees caught up in fighting in Syria was only a temporary solution?
Did Mahmoud Abbas think that he was offering Palestinian refugees [mainly from Yarmouk Camp] just shelter from the immediate conflict now?