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The Right of Return and the American Aggressive Policy
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
February 19, 2018

The American-Israeli aggressive policy on the rights of Palestinian people has been varied in order to eliminate it. While the new vision of Trump's administration on the identity of the city of Jerusalem and the recognition of it as the capital of the occupying state has recently been an interest to the regional and international public opinion and produced a consensus on its rejection, the joint attack, waged by Tel Aviv and Washington on the right of return of refugees to their homes and properties, that has begun since the Nakba is ongoing.

Since the June defeat in 1967, the danger on the right of return has increased with the escalation of the multi-faceted debate about the separation between the entitlements of the Nakba and the consequences of the Israeli occupation for the rest of the Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem.

The calls for this separation found their way in the foundations and mechanisms of the implementation of Oslo Accords when the international resolution 194 was absent from the essence of the settlement, and thus the issue of Palestinian refugees has been transferred to another negotiating track, which has been disrupted immediately after its formation.

Washington and Tel Aviv have failed to realize scenarios of resettling the Palestinian refugees in their places of refuge or pushing them elsewhere. Since the 1950s, there has been a series of resettlement projects, accompanied by means of coercion or payment, and Washington's contacts and pressure have been exerted on many host countries governments to assist in these projects.

Since the establishment of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), by the resolution of the United Nations in (1948) and the beginning of its work in May 1950, Washington has sought to be the largest contributor to the Agency's budget, in order to influence the course of its services towards creating facts that would facilitate the process of resettlement. .

The qualitative shift that put an end to the flow of resettlement projects was the start of the modern Palestinian revolution and the resulting national upheaval. This shift was reinforced by the unification of the national program within the framework of the coalition of PLO, which brought together the entitlements of the Nakba and the June defeat, so that the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties to be the most important title of this program, with the emphasis on the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people on its land. Thus, the fact that the refugee issue is at the heart of the Palestinian issue, together with the issue of land and properties and the return to them, has been embodied.

Therefore, when the peace process was launched by the Oslo Accords, it was clear that the first danger of this course, affects mainly the refugees, after the settlement was directed to talk about the future of the occupied Palestinian territories by the 1967 aggression and overstepped the right of refugees, not only because of the negligence of resolution 194 and its application, but because the American efforts moved actively after the signing of Oslo Accords, to restructure the functions of UNRWA and adapt its services, to influence the situation of the Palestinian refugees and put them before the option of resettlement, through many social and economic projects. Washington, along with Tel Aviv, considered that the opportunity is good for progress in this direction, especially with the emergence of a trend in the PA that is consistent with the American-Israeli wishes. This was evident with the emergence of the so-called (Dead Sea Document), which was signed by Israelis and Palestinians, and included the ending the UNRWA's work and resolving the issue of Palestinian refugees outside the implementation of UN Resolution 194.

Many factors led to the non-embodiment of these attempts, most notably the Palestinian refugees' commitment to their right of return and their categorical rejection to all resettlement and displacement projects. This period witnessed a significant activity for the institutions and organizations in the defense of the right of return and the rejection of these projects.

And with the stalemate of the settlement process, then the announcement of the failure of the negotiations in several rounds ,it has been clear that Tel Aviv is working on developing a package of demands and conditions that cancel the question of the right of return of refugees, to focus on the Palestinian state's issue from the point of emptying this title of its content by emphasizing on the annexation of the settlement blocs and refusing to discuss the future of East Jerusalem as a possible capital of that state, and the declaration of the continued control over large areas of the West in any subsequent settlement, including the Jordan Valley. Tel Aviv later declared that the Palestinian negotiator should recognize that Israel's borders extend from the White Sea to the Jordan River, as well as its recognition of the Jewishness of the State of Israel.

The government of Netanyahu considers the Trump's administration as a decisive factor that has enabled it to adopt decisions and legislations in the Knesset that reflect, in an unprecedented way, its expansionist policies, especially as Trump recently has declared his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It also has seen Trump's decision to withhold more than the half of US contribution to the UNRWA budget as a confirmation on the emerged consistency between Tel Aviv and Washington, as well as it has seen the so-called the "Deal of the Century", as the optimal framework for the solution, sought by Israel not only to the Palestinian issue, but also to the issues of the region and its new location therein.

What is new in the policy of the US toward the UNRWA and the Palestinian refugee issue, as well as on the overall solution, is that the Trump administration has moved from the policy of encouragement and intimidation, in dealing with the Palestinian and Arab situations, to the policy of imposing the American plan through Greenblatt's assertions, that what the American's administration is proposing, is for implementation rather than discussion or negotiation. And its weapon in this is the sword of financial pressure and the security and the political extortion towards the Palestinians and the countries of the Arab region.

This is accompanied by the continued decline and hesitation in the Palestinian situation and the accumulation of crises which it is experiencing, starting with the aggravation of the division and its continuation, to the policy of waiting, exercised by the official Palestinian leadership, which apparently is still betting on the American role in the settlement, in contradiction with the decisions of the Central Council and the "Executive Committee" and its evasion from the obligations of these decisions, which assumes: the practical cancellation of Oslo Accords, returning to the national liberation program, the internationalization of the Palestinian cause, activating the membership of Palestine in the United Nations institutions, especially the "International Criminal Court" and the immediate submission for complaints against the crimes of occupation.

As this policy continues, the danger is growing not only on the future of the Palestinian refugee issue and their right of return, but on all Palestinian rights, in light of the escalation of American-Israeli attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause as a whole.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is an Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Manal Mansour
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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