Mid East: Abbas and the Right of Return

In the battle to fill the chasmic void left amongst Palestinian leadership by the death of Arafat, there are some contenders who are offering something new, and plenty more who are serving up more of the same. One who has been deserving of praise in the past has been Mahmood Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). Abbas had his time in the spotlight last year when he was appointed as the first Palestinian Prime Minister during attempts to sideline Arafat and create a partner for peace. Abbas was intelligent, keen and committed to something more substantial than making martyrs out of kids who had their lives ahead of them. His downfall, ultimately, was the Arafat refused to give an inch (or perhaps, given it's the holy land, it should be a cubit) and perceived Abbas as a threat.

Abbas is making his push for the leadership, and has scored himself the Fatah candidacy in the elections scheduled for January 9. Keen to win over the Arafat supporters, Abbas has taken a hard line in the support of the right of return.

From Ha'Aretz:

Abbas: I won't give up demand for right of return of refugees

PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian parliament Tuesday that he would follow in Yasser Arafat's footsteps and demand that Israel recognize the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.


It's not worth reading too much into this one. Two reasons - firstly, Abbas needs to win over the radical elements of the Palestinian population, and this is an ideal way to do it. Secondly, the right of return is an ambit claim, always has been and always will, that will never be realised but instead be traded away for a couple of hectares of desert. Still, it is telling that the right of return, a notion which is infinately more destructive than the construction of a fence, is still seen as fair game amongst the Palestinian populace.

Just as a quick refresher: there's no point in having the state of Palestine and Israel side by side if the Palestinian population are also given the right to return and live in Israel. It would soon lead to Israel having a Jewish minority by stealth, and result in two states - Palestine 1 and Palestine 2, which might be good for Sheffield Shield cricket, but is not the basis of a just peace.

Abu Mazen: Who Farted?
Abu Mazen: Who Farted?

Comments

Anonymous said…
As someone who has done a bit of research on the Palestinian refugees (reading Benny Morris, Efraim Karsh, various 'new' historians etc for an essay I put far too much effort into) it annoys me that so often when journalists refer to the refugees they present as fact the highly debatable opinion that these people were driven out of their homes. With some exceptions thats simply a load of crap.

There are too many journalists who see their role as fighting injustice or helping the oppressed or standing up to power or some crap like that and not enough who clearly separate reported facts from fiction.

Simon

PS Have a great trip

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