Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Plight of Palestinian Refugees is Holding Back Palestinians from Negotiation With Israel.

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece on my blog speculating why the Palestinians work so hard to not negotiate. After all, my feeling is that if you are a Palestinian leader and you are sincere about wanting a future for your people, then you talk to Israel, and you keep talking - you do it for days, weeks...hell you do it for years, whatever it takes. You keep the lines open, because one day you'll get there. You don't set preconditions, agree to meet & then cancel, talk about talks, send delegates, but refuse to be in the same room and you don't make inflammatory public statements at the start of a negotiation process, to scupper any hope of success at the outset.

My conclusion then as to why the Palestinian leaders don't negotiate was that they simply don't want an agreement with Israel, because it isn't in their own personal interests. At the moment Palestinian Authority leaders are widely seen as being ridiculously corrupt, to a point where despite more than enough income from foreign aid to pay for their fiscal responsibilities, the PA recently needed Israel to step in and pay Palestinian Authority wages. The money had gone! Of course, in the current climate the PA can blame Israel for any failure, but where they an actual independent government, the Palestinian people would only have their own government to blame, probably leading to a Jihadist / Hamas takeover and a return to war with Israel.

I stand by that opinion, and I strongly believe the corrupt avarice of PA officials is a reason for them to not negotiate with Israel, but I have come to realize that there's another fundamental reason that a peace agreement would be a disaster for the Palestinians - It is The "Refugees":

The Arab world has climbed a tree of "Right of Return" for so called refugees and it is now so ingrained into Palestinian psyche that a future state will have to allow the 'return' of the refugees. Indeed, as they languish for generations without homes and work, it is their only hope. This is a demographic nightmare for Israel, but it would spell total disaster for any fledgling Palestinian state. Here's the issue:

Starting at the beginning, in 1948, the Arabs of Palestine (at the time nobody identified any ethnic race as Palestinian) left their homes. Their claim is the "zionists" forced them out in an act of ethnic cleansing, but there is a mass of historical evidence from Arab leaders , arab media, international observers and the UN itself, that the Arab League & Palestinian leaders urged them to leave for a few days, so as not to get in the way of the planned genocide of the Jews of Palestine by the combined armies of the Arab world.

How many left? The Palestinians claim 1,000,000 refugees fled the fighting. This is a blatant lie. The census of residents of Palestine from 1945 shows there were only ever about 850,000 Arabs in the land, and after the War of Independence, around 160,000 remained (and became full citizens of The State of Israel!). The UN at the time estimated there were no more than 450,000 refugees. In any case, what happened after has been a greater disaster for those people and their descendants, as the Arab world manipulated the UN (and its agency established to deal with this issue, UNRWA) into creating a refugee population that would never find homes, never settle and always be an angry pawn of the Arab League and their own Palestinian leadership.

The Palestinian exiles fled to their Arab brothers in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt etc. The normal process in cases of refugee exile would have been settlement, and citizenship over time, which is why despite mass displacement after WW2, there are no "refugees' from that period today- the idea is absurd! Indeed, there are no Jewish refugees from Arab lands after they were kicked out of those countries after 1000s of years merely for sharing the same religion as Israelis. There were 850,000 Jewish refugees in the 40s and 50s, but none exist today. Their descendants are now Israeli and some are European, American, Australian...but none are "refugees" 60+ years later. Again, the idea is absurd. As the Executive Vice President of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries wrote this week in The Jerusalem Post, "Israel, opened her doors to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, granted them citizenship, and tried, under very difficult circumstances, to absorb them into Israeli contrast, the Arab world, with the sole exception of Jordan, turned their backs on displaced Palestinian Arabs."

Today there are now around 5,000,000 Palestinian refugees in 2012. With laws borrowed from Hitler's Germany of the 1930's, where ironically they were enacted against Jews, these people have been denied citizenship, denied building rights or property ownership, and in many Arab countries, it is illegal for Palestinians to work in most professions. They have been trapped in this hopeless situation for 65 years!
Sir Alexander Galloway, the head of UNRWA in 1958 said,"The Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem, they want to keep it as an open a weapon against Israel". Nothing has changed in the intervening 50 years.

Certainly Sir George has been proven correct: the Palestinian refugees have indeed been used as a weapon against Israel: they have been a moral argument thrown at the Jewish state, claiming ethnic cleansing, colonialism, fascism etc. Worse, these desperate people, denied basic rights for 3 generations produce very angry youth, indoctrinated with hate and antisemitism, ready to provide terrorists and martyrs for 'the cause'.

However, as the world seriously contemplates some kind of Palestinian state in the near future, the refugees have become a double edged sword, because how can any future Palestine deny them the "right of return" promised for so long? To make matters worse for the hapless Palestinian leaders, this very right is sown into the hated zionist state, allowing Jews instant citizenship of Israel, so it is obvious that 5,000,000 desperate arab refugees will start to pack their bags the moment a Palestinian state becomes reality. They will outnumber the local population 3:1 ! No country can hope to absorb that many people, and certainly not a tiny Palestinian country, which will almost certainly be full of corruption, reliant on world aid, with no industry, no infrastructure and riven by violent splits.

Until this reality is recognized by the world, and the Arab world is made to face the shame of its treatment of Palestinians, there can be no solution in the Middle East. The Palestinian cause constantly moves the goal post of debate, indeed the entire playing field away from the real issues we face here. They talk settlements, they talk apartheid, they talk about water rights, but the real issues such as the refugee problem are barely mentioned. Substantive talks are not even on the horizon. Meanwhile, millions of people languish for another generation, without any hope of a future for their children.

Addendum: July 2013:
Nothing has changed in the 15 months since I first wrote this piece. As I write this, the US has been involved in shuttle diplomacy and seemed to be getting some movement from both the Palestinian & the Israeli sides toward talks,so I have been waiting for the Palestinian's to find ways to ensure no talks will ever happen - they have not failed to disappoint! They want a series of "incentives" to even think about coming to the table - because apparently gaining a state isn't enough - incentives they are already describing as "pre-conditions". Today's little gem is an international airport in Ramallah - please don't tell me Palestinian leaders really want a successful final status's a lie! 

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