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Israeli Maneuvering Ways on the issue of Refugees and the Right of Return
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
September 20, 2017

Netanyahu believes that the redefinition of the refugee and the imposition of financial blockade on UNRWA would leave time to resolve the cause.

In his follow-up to the issue of Palestinian refugees, Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly dependent on a team of political and legal experts who monitor the development of the cause and its implications, and present their views and suggestions to each event and every development.

In this context, for example, the Israeli National Security Research Institute presented its report to Netanyahu about the project of displacing the refugees from the host countries, after the European countries have been crowded with millions of refugees from Arab, Asian and African countries.

The Israeli team on the question of Palestine refugees may recognize that UNRWA is the international institution that has kept the issue on the agenda of the international community. It also recognizes, in the context, that it is the entrance to launch the required attack to eliminate the case. This international agency, is the political protection for the right of return, and is closely linked to Resolution 194 it's also one of the mechanisms for its implementation. As long as the UNRWA continues to play its role, in the care of refugees, and as long as the major countries are concerned with supporting it, i.e. committed to resolve the refugees' issue, in context, the issue will remain year after year, on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly at its regular session, to discuss the reports of its General-Commissioner and Advisory Committee, and to renew its procuration in the right time. It is not surprising, therefore, that the successive governments of Israel feud the UNRWA and vote in the United Nations against Resolution 194 (the return and the compensation) and against Resolution 302 (the establishment of UNRWA) when it votes against renewing its mandate.

It is also not surprising, then, that Israel has always called for the dissolution of UNRWA, in its move to obliterate the refugee cause and the right of return. Also, when Shimon Peres, following the signing of the Oslo Accords, called for reconsidering its mandate, to be transformed from the Relief and works Agency for Refugees to resettle them in the host countries, or to relocate and distribute them throughout the globe and to dissolve them in the local communities, on the way to obliterate and dissolve the Palestinian national character for about six million Palestinians.

Netanyahu, in the context of his hostile action against the refugees and the right of return, is aware of the difficulty of persuading the United Nations to rescind the Resolution 194, as it did when canceled the decision to equate Zionism with Nazism.

The issue is completely different, more complex, and touches on several issues, including the question of Israel's membership in the United Nations. Netanyahu is also aware of the difficulty of convincing the international community to dissolve UNRWA for political, humanitarian reasons and, most important of all this, for protecting the Western interests in the Arab region.

Therefore, Netanyahu is manipulate it, through a series of maneuvers, which have not yet achieved their goals, such as persuading the donor countries to stop supporting and financing the Agency, which leading to its death. Even the United States itself, has refused to respond to his demand because it recognizes the dangers of this object on the security situation in the Arab region. Even Canada, which for a limited time refrained from funding the Agency, reversed from its decision and restored its role in extending relief and aid to the UNRWA, especially in view of the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian refugees in Syria and their poor living conditions in the Gaza Strip. This does not mean that the conditions of others in the host areas are better.

Therefore, the latest thing that was created by the maneuvers of the Netanyahu government and its competent team, is to call for a reconsideration of UNRWA's mandate, by redefining the Palestinian refugee and revoking the principle of acquiring the aspect of refugee from one generation to the next ,and that the refugee is the one who left Palestine in 1948, while those who were born after that date, from a father or parents who are refugees, are not considered refugees, not covered by the negotiating process, Resolution 194 does not apply to them, and are not covered by UNRWA's care and obligations in its various fields of service.

In fact, there is nothing new about Netanyahu's idea and proposal. As Israel - in addition to its refusal to recognize its political, legal and moral responsibility for the birth of the refugees' issue, and its refusal to the return of refugees to their homes and properties from which they have been displaced from since 1948 - has not ceased fighting the issue through a series of projects, that aim to prioritize its view about refugees and the right of return. In 1993/1994, Israel succeeded in failing the work of the Quartet committee (Egypt, Jordan, the PLO and Israel) which was tasked with resolving the issue of the displaced (who were displaced in the 1967 war), when it stopped all proposals to define the displaced and the refugee, , so as not to become responsible for resolving these two issues. Israel also does not miss a single chance to challenge the case and the right of return. So it resorts to an endless number of maneuvering suggestions and scenarios.

Netanyahu believes that the redefinition of the refugee, would remove from the responsibility of the agency, millions of refugees, who were born after the displacement, outside the country, leaving only a few thousand, the most of them are "young" seventy years old, and have only a few years. In the context, it means a significant reduction in the Agency's role and responsibility, and a bet on time, to end the refugees' issue. Even if the "return" of these people, without their offspring to the West Bank - as stipulated by Israel - is proposed, they will not be the burden as the case of about 6 million refugees.

The government of Israel, this time will not only launch an invitation through the media, or offer its proposal to the «friendly countries», but it is serious in the elaboration of a draft resolution, to be submitted to the United Nations, and therefore it submitted its draft to the US Congress, through the Committee on the drafting of draft resolutions to the United Nations.

Israel is betting that its friendship with a wide range of congressmen, especially the members of the committee, will yield positive results. It also believes that the insistence on the project year after year, under a broad media and political campaign, accompanied by parallel projects to receive a number of Palestinian refugees here and there, in Europe, and elsewhere, will also pave the way for a project to redefine the Palestinian refugee in the United Nations. Israel also believes that the reduction of the donor countries to their commitments to the UNRWA, and dumping the Agency in financial crises, could "convince" the international community to reconsider the definition of the refugee, especially those who have been granted Arab or foreign nationalities, or who have been granted the Palestinian "national number".

All this confirms that the issue of refugees and the right of return are permanently placed on fire, and under the Israeli censorship with increasing interest, to drop this issue from the attention of the international community.

It remains our duty to ask - on the margins - how the Executive Committee in the PLO is managing this issue and how the Department of Refugee Affairs in the Executive Committee is managing this issue and what are its projects, and the Palestinian diplomacy and the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs projects, to counter the overheating Israeli moves?

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Manal Mansour
Revised by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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