Palestine: Reversing Ethnic Cleansing
Dr.Salman Abu Sitta
January 14, 2010
Today you are witnessing one more day in the longest war in history waged against a people, the Palestinians. It is now 92 years since the last western colonial project, initiated by Balfour and Weizmann, was planted in Palestine. It only succeeded in sowing death and destruction since then.
Never in its 5000 years history has Palestine witnessed such massive uprooting of its people, ethnically cleansing of 675 towns and villages, such massive dispossession and confiscation of property, 93% of Israel’s area is Palestinian property, so are the contents of its towns and village, public buildings, roads, railways, ports and of course, its water resources.
Never before has Palestine witnessed such massive destruction of its landscape, its cultural and religious monuments and its landmarks.
Never before has Palestine witnessed such erasure of its history, identity, its Arabic and Palestinian names and its heritage.
Never before has Palestine been the subject of so many UN resolutions condemning these crimes and deeds and calling for removing this colossal injustice, with absolutely nothing done about it.
The victims of this injustice are 11 million Palestinians of whom 7 million are refugees and displaced people, including 4.7 million registered refugees. They are languishing in exile while Jewish European immigrants are enjoying the fruits of their conquest, looting and plunder.
But this unprecedented catastrophic event has a peculiar characteristic:
It is like a constantly-running play. The players change, but the same story goes on and on.
If you missed all events since WWI, you must have seen the carnage in Gaza last January. This is the latest replica of past events. Let us look back for a minute at the beginnings.
The opening scene finds Herzl in 1903 approaching his lawyer to draft for him the charter for the first Jewish colonial project by the name of the “Jewish Colonization Trust” in East Africa. The lawyer was none other than David Lloyd George. The British found the project too ambitious and probably threatening to imperial interests, so they turned it down. In 1904 a professor of chemistry, Haim Weizmann, befriended his MP by the name of James Arthur Balfour and introduced him to Zionism. In 1917, that same Lloyd George became Britain’s Prime Minister and Balfour became its Foreign Secretary. Together with Weizmann, they redrafted the old colonial document. It became known as Balfour Declaration. It was the last, and the only surviving, colonial project today.
Scene 2: Finds the Allied planes dropping leaflets on Bilad ash Sham in the summer of 1916 promising the Arabs full independence as soon as they both defeat the Turks. At the very same time, a man who lived a long time here in Beirut and a young rich English aristocrat huddled in a room, with drawn curtains, and with a map of the Middle East before them. Thus George Picot got the piece of cake called north Syria, i.e. present Syria, and Lebanon and Mark Sykes got Palestine and Iraq. Since then, we are painted as Palestinians, and you as Lebanese and a little to the east, Syrians. Any villager in any one of these regions at that time would be baffled by this new designation.
This treachery and betrayal by those diplomats, wearing top hats and exchanging polite conversation over dinner table, had to be dressed up in a civilized legal garb. They found the way.
In the wake of WWI, The League of Nations bestowed upon Palestine its “Sacred Trust of Civilization” by which Palestine was put under Mandate class A; that is, it is fit for independence as soon as the Mandatory power, Britain, would finish its task of helping Palestine to build its institutions. This task is not finished till today and Palestine remains under the guardianship of the United Nations and its responsibility.
Why was not the task finished after 92 years?
It is because those powers who promised applying the “Sacred Trust of Civilization” are the same who betrayed it. The guardian became the villain. As a result, the Palestinian people suffered the loss of their patrimony and independence.
The Mandatory Power, Britain, represented by Herbert Samuel, the Zionist first High Commissioner in Palestine, established in his first term, 1920-1925, the legal foundation of the components of the State of Israel. Moreover, in the following 28 years, the British Mandate allowed Jewish European immigrants into Palestine, thereby increasing Jewish population from 9% to 30% of total population. More ominously, Zionist Jews built an army of 120,000 soldiers by the end of the Mandate, or 20% of all Jews, which is 15 times the ratio in any country. This number of soldiers is comparable to the American forces in vastly bigger Afghanistan. In 1948, they bounced on Palestine and carried out the largest, longest, pre-planned and continuous ethnic cleansing operation in modern history. That was al Nakba.
Slide (2-23): Al Nakba Anatomy (30 sec).
The blue areas are lands acquired by the Jewish immigrants during the Mandate to the tune of 5% of Palestine. The red areas are conquered Palestinian land. The flashing points are massacres. On 15 May 1948, when he declared his state, Ben Gurion was in control only of 13% of Palestine. Zionist militias committed one half of the massacres in this period, while the British were looking.
The Israeli conquest went on. Seven thousand square kilometers in the south were occupied by Israel after it signed the Armistice Agreement with Egypt. Within six months Israel occupied 78% of Palestine.
This shows the occupied land. What about the people? Slide 24 (Fig 3.1 animated) – 4 layers.
The first thing Ben Gurion did was to expel the Palestinian citizens of the state he planned to establish. This is called ethnic cleansing. Half of all refugees were expelled before the state was established, while the British were watching, not rising to their obligations. That is before any Arab soldier entered Palestine to prevent expulsion and massacres. This explodes the myth that Israel was in self-defence.
The expulsion went on. 675 towns and villages were depopulated. Every expulsion was correlated with an Israeli military operation of conquest. When there was truce, no body left, as you can see from the yellow line. If they left on Arab orders, the truce or the lull in fighting would have been a good time to pack and leave but they did not, as you can see in the flat green curve. This explodes the myth that exodus was not initiated by the Israelis.
A damning proof is the occurrence of over 70 massacres. Every Israeli operation was accompanied by one or more massacres. As you can see these massacres coincided with the exodus and the military operation. In the end, 900,000 refugees lost their homes.
Al Nakba can be seen in its graphic form. (slide 25 – 4 layers).
Every depopulated village was surrounded from three sides, leaving the fourth for expulsion. (slide 26). Today, 11 million Palestinians are waiting for their patrimony and freedom. They are scattered around the world, but mercifully 88% of them are in and around Palestine. (slide 27). About half of them are in the three regions of Palestine.
A distinguished man of peace who saw this tragedy and understood its dimensions was Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Mediator in Palestine. Jewish terrorists assassinated him on the day of his final report. They were too late. His report and his legacy became the corner stone of the famous UN resolution 194.
This resolution, affirmed by the international community over 130 times, more than any resolution in UN history, has three main components:
1. It calls for the return of the refugees and their compensation.
2. It calls for their relief and assistance until they are repatriated.
3. It creates the mechanism for the resolution’s implementation,
the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine, UNCCP.
Resolution 194 was the central pillar of international law. It was, over the years, the fundamental demand of the refugees.
I would like to read for you a paragraph, from a letter I found in Philadelphia archives, sent by a field officer in Gaza of the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers), one of the first relief organizations to come to the assistance of the Palestinian refugees. His letter to his Philadelphia head-office was dated October 12, 1949; a mere 12 months after al Nakba:
They [the refugees] feel strongly that the United Nations are responsible for their plight and therefore have the total responsibility to feed, house, clothe and repatriate them...... Above all else, they desire to go home – back to their lands and villages which in many cases are very close... Without it, they would have nothing for which to live.... It is as genuine and deep as a man’s longing for his home can be.
Today 62 years later this very same message is still echoed by the sons and grandsons of the refugees.
What happened to the Palestinian patrimony, to the empty landscape, to the depopulated towns and villages? Josef Weitz, the chief official of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) behind land grabbing and people’s expulsion, visited the depopulated Galilee in the autumn of 1948, immediately after expulsion, and wrote those poetic words:
And as the road continues over mountains, the Galilee is revealed to me in its splendor, its hidden places and folds, its crimson smile and its green softness and its desolation. I have never seen it like this. It was always bustling with man and beast. A strange stillness lies over all the mountains and is drawn by hidden threads from within the empty village. An empty village; what a terrible thing! Fossilized lives! Lives turned to fossilized whispers in scrawny dog, thin-tailed and floppy-eared and dark-eyed. At the same time, at the very same moment, a different feeling throbs and rises from the primordial depths, a feeling of victory, of taking control, of revenge. And you knew: War! This was our war.
There is no time to waste. Palestine with all its towns, villages and wealth minus its people, lay open to the conquerors. Wave after wave of looters, plunderers came to get a piece of the war spoils. (slide 28 – 5 layers). The first looters were Jews in the neighbouring Kibbutz. The second were army officers. The third were Jewish businessmen who divided Arab business among them. The fourth were high Mapai officials who divided rich Arab villas among them, the fifth were the Jewish Agency and JNF who took over the farms and town and village houses to settle new immigrants in them. The sixth were archaeology officers who started to fabricate Jewish history by destroying Arab and Islamic monuments and retrieving any relics which could benefit their mission.
But the major robbery was undertaken by JNF. Ben Gurion felt, after Bernadotte’s damning report, that the international community would force the un-recognized Israel government to allow the refugees’ return to their homes.
So Ben Gurion entered into a fictitious sale’s agreement of the choicest Palestinian land with JNF.
He could then claim that this land is out of his reach. It belongs to an international organization with a different jurisdiction.
(Slide 29 – 3 layers) JNF confiscated the land of 372 villages, owned by 54% of the refugees. JNF honoured Balfour, Lloyd George and western accomplices by planting parks on this land named after these notables.
(slide 30) This slide shows the park paid for by Canadian Jews, on the ruins of Biblical Imwas, Bayt Nuba and Yalu destroyed by Rabin in 1967.
What is left for the Palestinians? The arm of international law. But it was short and soon its guardians turned against them.
Immediately after resolution 194, UNCCP negotiations to repatriate the refugees started in Lausanne from January to May 1949. By signing the Lausanne Protocol on May 12, 1949, Israel finally agreed to the partition plan (resolution 181) and the return of the refugees (resolution 194). But that was a trick. Under American threat, Israel agreed to these resolutions, only in order to gain admittance to the UN. Two days after Israel was admitted to the UN, Israel introduced conditions whose “main purpose [was according to their representative] to undermine the Protocol of 12 May”..
This is a crucial date. The main American delegate, Ethridge, who insisted on the return of the refugees, resigned in disgust. The American position switched, since then, to the Israeli side and started talking of “economic”, not political measures, such as Marshal Plan based on Clapp’s Economic Survey. The aim was to settle the refugees in other Arab countries, not in Palestine. In December 1949, UNRWA legislation was created, as a successor to previous relief organizations, but with one difference, to implement settlement of refugees away from their homes. In other words, it was given the task of the perpetuation of the ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel. Israel in its turn did not waste time. Just weeks before UNRWA started operations in May 1950, feeling immune from international pressure to allow the return of the refugees, Israel passed a comprehensive law, the Absentees’ Property Law, to seize and confiscate all refugee property.
The change of course in UNCCP direction, instigated by the Americans to make UNRWA a tool of Israeli policy, continued over the following 6 years or so. Missions came and left, with offers of untold millions, clever division of Arab waters, discrete and indiscrete pressure on host countries, all with the aim of carting away the refugees from their homes, property and country. But all this failed. In the nineteen fifties the refugees themselves destroyed UNRWA stores and demonstrated at distribution centers, shouting: “We do not want your food or money, we want our homes back”.
Fedayeen groups started to operate in the Israeli occupied territory of Palestine and secret national societies were formed, leading 10 years later to the PLO. Since then, UNRWA played a heroic role in serving the refugees, through wars, raids and siege.
At first, western powers paid UNRWA generously, to alleviate the pressure of international law on Israel which prevented the return of the refugees, by finding a home for the refugees anywhere in the world except their homes. They saw refugees as “a source of instability” which had to be contained.
But now in this decade the interest waned. According to UNRWA’s budget for 2008, UNRWA spends, from funds received from UN member states, the amount of $76 per refugee/per year, that is 20 cents/day, for its Regular Budget. But it also spends a further $40/year/refugee for its Non-Regular Budget. What is that? This Non-Regular Budget was created to meet new disasters, such as Israel’s destruction of houses and killing of civilians and further destitution of Palestinians, such as the recent assault on Gaza.
The US pays 27% of the Regular Budget, that is 6 cents per day per refugee, but it pays almost 50% of the Non-Regular Budget, that is 5 cents/day per refugee to rebuild the destroyed UN schools and burnt UN stores, a feat achieved by the Israeli Airforce and tanks, assisted by American supplied F-16 planes and white phosphorous bombs.
Not only in terms of armament the US is over-generous in aiding Israel. The US pays about $1000 per Israeli per year (against $40/Palestinian), equally divided between economic and military aid.
The US further aggravates the problem by assisting Russians to immigrate to live in Palestinian homes. The outcome of this policy is that Israel now has a nightclub bouncer as its foreign minister. (Slide 31) Since the nineties, the US paid Israel $50-80 million per year for its Russian immigrants. It pays a Russian immigrant 30 times what it pays for a Palestinian refugee.
The European Commission pays considerable amounts to UNRWA and an additional amounts keeping PA institutions afloat in the face of brutal occupation in the West Bank and deadly siege of Gaza.
Knowingly or otherwise, the Europeans finance the Israeli occupation, by taking this responsibility on their shoulders which is the duty of Israel as the Occupying Power according to the 4th Geneva Convention. Perhaps the Europeans are well advised to stand squarely to Israel and tell them what they already believe and say behind closed doors: “you are violating international law. Shape up, or else you shall face sanctions, boycott or even siege”. Unfortunately it is Gaza refugees who are under siege. Alas, The Europeans do not even have the courage to claim from Israel the cost of hospitals and institutions they built and Israel destroyed.
On behalf of the Quartet, Tony Blair offers financial and political bribes with the added incentive to lift the siege on Gaza and the barriers in the West Bank if, and only if, Palestinians forget Palestine and accept Israel’s condition that Palestine as they know it does not exist.
It is only political expediency which led to these offers in the name of the Quartet. For the Quartet has no legal authority contrary to international law. Alvaro de Soto, the UN mediator on Palestine, the successor of Count Folke Bernadotte 60 years later, stated recently in his Final “End of Mission” Report, para 79,
“Another public misunderstanding is the characterization of the principles laid down by the Quartet as “conditions”, which, until they are met, stand in the way of contacts and assistance to PA… The Quartet has never once referred to the principles – nonviolence, recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements- as “conditions”. While they appear as conditions for two Quartet members – the US and the EU-this is due to their own legislation rather than a Quartet decision”.
It seems that Blair is not only facing accusations about engineering the Iraq war, but also he may be accused of using the Quartet as an instrument of Israeli policy. De Soto says as much in the same para:
Russia and UN are used as a shield for what the US and the EU do.
The question arises then: how long should the Palestinians endure this situation? They already suffer the longest war in history waged against a people. Many Balfours came and went but his legacy remained. Its fiercest manifestation can be seen in Ben Gurion, Sharon and Netanyahoo, to name a few. No remorse, no mercy, but relentless pursuit of the same aim: to annihilate the Palestinians politically, geographically and historically.
During all those years, we had peace emissaries, commissions and missions: Johnston, Jaring, Rogers and after 1967, assortment of Israelis. Then came the biggest hoax of all: Oslo. If you count them, you will find 50 or 60 proposals or plans by western and Israeli politicians since 1948. Not one of them, not a single one, complies fully with international law or UN resolutions. All of them accept the Israeli position of ethnic cleansing, apartheid or occupation, but try to find ways to make this pill palatable to the Palestinians.
Like Blair with his ever-ready promise of cash, wrapped in an expired political message, western politicians failed, after all these years, to grasp a simple fact. It is far cheaper, more lasting, and more honorable if that is to them a criterion, to repatriate the refugees, than to hand out donations to Palestinians and war materiel to Israelis.
But we do not have much hope there. The hope lies, and remains, with the Palestinians and those good people around the world who support them.
The perseverance of the Palestinians in their quest to return home is enhanced by the increasing world support and also by the work of UNRWA and its records. These records are the building block of the Return Plan. They are the genome of the refugeehood. It defines the refugee’s name, his family, the new families of his off-spring, his home in his village of origin and his camp of exile. The whole home-exile odyssey is imprinted in history. We can use them to design the Return Plan.
To start with, we know where the people of each village were exiled to. We have three examples:
(Slide 32: A) Al Jiyya, in the south – the refugees are mostly in Gaza Strip.
(Slide 32 B) bayt Mahsir, west of Jerusalem – they are in the West Bank and Jordan.
(Slide 32 C) Saffuriyya, in Galilee – they are in Syria and Lebanon.
More importantly, we know how to repatriate them. For each exile camp, we know where its refugee come from. Take the case of Jabaliya camp, (Slide 33-A) which was pulverized by Israeli planes and tanks. Here is where they come from. The next camp is Dheishah (Slide 33-B). They belong to these villages west of Jerusalem. Next is a camp in Lebanon: Ein el Hilweh (Slide 33-C), a constant source of the news. Its people came from Galilee.
This bring us to the Gaza Strip, the minuscule Palestine. Its area is 1% of Palestine. Its population is over 1.5 million, which the same number of all Palestinian in 1948. Why is it crowded? (Slide 34-A). Because the Israelis ethnically cleansed 247 villages and herded them into this small strip (Slide 34-B). (Sederot-Najd) They tried to finish them off in December 1948 in the battle of Hill 86 but they failed militarily. Since then they are still trying (Slide 35). This is a constantly committed war crime and a crime against humanity. Gaza starvation is a war crime. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court art 8 (6) states: “War Crimes mean….[inter alia] starvation or impeding relief supplies”. Gaza’s siege, starvation, cutting off supplies is Genocide. Art 6 para c of the same Statute says: “Genocide is …[inter alia] deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.
It is ironic to note that the best description of the situation in Gaza was given by a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, Raphael Lenkin, in 1943. Note the date. He stated:
Genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation… [It is] a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups.. and the disintegration of their political and social institutions.
Should we allow this to continue? The answer is emphatically “No”. We, all of us, must work actively for the return of the refugees. Only when they return, when they are rehabilitated in their own homes, assured of decent living and safety from racism and apartheid, can we say peace prevails.
Not only the return is an inalienable right, but it is also logistically possible.
The first question to ask: What did the Zionists do with the land of Palestine? This slide (Slide 36) shows the existing and projected land use in Israel. It still has and will continue to have the same features. Israeli Jews live mostly in the areas they acquired during the British Mandate. The rest of the land (19 million donums) are used basically for the military and less than a quarter for the Kibbutz who represent 1% of the Jews.
Let us look at some details. (Slide 37 – 5 layers). This southern region between Jaffa and Jerusalem has seen the most urban change in the last 60 years. You can see the new built-up areas the land confiscated by JNF. What is it really used for? The majority of a thousand strategic and military points and depots of WMD, in Israel. When peace prevails, there is no need for that and the refugees can return without obstruction.
Now let us test this on the Southern District.
We made a study of over 1000 towns and villages (settlements) in Israel, and classified the population there in 5 categories: (Slide 38)
1) Remaining Palestinians
2) Old Ashkenazis
3) Arab Jews
5) Assorted Jews who came after 1967.
Apart from 3 originally Palestinian towns, the district is almost empty. The refugees can literally walk home.
The Northern District is the same. (Slide 39). Here, there is an added dvantage. The refugees in Lebanon and Syria can return to be united with their separated families in Galilee who comprise half the population there.
In neither case, there is a problem of obstruction, crowdedness or conflict of space.
The Zionists claim that return is NOT possible because this means that Israel will not be a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. This argument is false on many grounds. Upon its declaration, Israel based its thin legitimacy on the UN recommendation of the Partition Plan in resolution 181. But this resolution never envisaged, nor could not have ever envisaged, an ethnic or religious state. Ch. 2 and 3 of resolution 181 clearly stipulate iron-clad guarantees for the minority among the majority group. Israel’s UN membership is conditional upon that.
The slogan that the Arab citizens in Israel are a “demographic bomb” is not only racist but it is also futile. This (Slide 40) shows that the Palestinians will definitely be a majority, short of massive holocaust, God forbid. The question is where and when. This will be speeded up when immigration, which is inversely proportional to the action of intifada, dries up. (black line)
The aim of pushing this slogan of course is to give Israel a license to expel its Arab citizens and to deny the refugees’ Right of Return.
We are of course aware that the return of the refugees will not be a picnic. There has to be a lot of adjustments: economic, social and physical.
Time does not permit going into details. But I can assure you of two things: (1) Palestine is a very well documented country. Its records plus new research can recreate and examine the status of every donum and every person in Palestine, and (2) there are a lot of useful precedents in Bosnia, Kosova, South Africa, Guatemala, Abkhazia among others. The UN, not only have available the proper legal regime in such cases, but they also have a well-proven body of experience.
Let us remember that the return does not only mean the re-possession of private property. The Palestinian people are legally entitled to their public property as well.
Of course, the water is the most vital stolen property (Slide 41). The Palestinian public property was the backbone of establishing Israel as an instant state on the morning of May 15, 1948. (Slide 42).
Regrettably, the Zionists in their mad rush to build, they destroyed much of the environment and converted the landscape to an ugly concrete slab, according to Alon Tal, the Israeli pollution scientist.
But all these are matters of country development, none of which is beyond solution.
Let us have another look at the passing century.
What did we learn from the last 100 years?
That all the might of Zionism, supported by western colonial powers, failed to bring the Palestinians to their knees. True, the Palestinians lost their land by Israeli conquest and occupation, but they are 11 million now, half of them in Palestine and 88% in Palestine and around it.
That creating Israel had a heavy price. Since they assassinated Lord Moyne in 1944 until Gaza assault in 2009, they created a reign of terror in the area, millions have been displaced, hundreds of thousands wounded and imprisoned, and many thousands more killed. Western powers have only to calculate the cost of their aid and grants to Israel. They must add the cost of protecting Israel embassies and war criminals in the world and the corollary cost of protecting hundreds of airports around the world, to see if it is all worth it.
Supporting Israel is like holding a pyramid on its apex with its base on the top. You need strong hands to hold it for ever. Is the west ready for that?
We also learn that you cannot fool all the people all the time. Now that the wandering Jew is replaced by the wandering Palestinian refugee, many parts of the world are slowly but surely supporting the Palestinian cause. All the myths of Zionism are disappearing in the light of truth. Now there is a triple increase in NGOs, the people’s voice, from 2000 to 6000 in the nineties. You can see that in Durban, Geneva, Gaza, Cairo, Akaba, Al-Arish and the capitals of Europe.
We also learn that, since WWI, it was the Arab people, not their governments, who took the initiative in defending their homes and rights. Consider the cases in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt in the fifties Algeria and others. From Lawrence of Arabia to Hilary Clinton, many Arab governments bartered their people’s national rights for preservation of their regimes. That calls for more and more people’s action.
What should the players and spectators in this long-running real-time play do to bring the curtain down on a happy ending?
I say this is to western powers:
European Governments and particularly the UK government, and USA of course, the chief player have a duty to remove the evil they have created. They have a duty to enforce international law and UN resolutions.
They should force Israel to roll up the occupation, not to finance it.
They should cease to feed Israel with WMD through about 60 scientific agreements. Germany should cease to supply Israel with submarines and USA to supply Israel with phosperous and other lethal bombs.
They should also terminate EU-Israel Agreement. It is an absolute shame to keep it.
They should stop playing charades, by sending one mission after another, proposal of peace after another, which are all intended to coerce Palestinians to yield to Israel’s conditions. Let Blair stop playing the Quartet game. It is over. It does not fly any more.
As I said, there is a cheaper and honourable solution. In view of the crushing economic crisis, it may be worth thinking about. It is cheaper than what the West pays UNRWA, Israel, Nato, the forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and probably Iran.
All you have to do is to wake up the dormant UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) at the UN.
You must reactivate it to resume its duties to repatriate the refugees. This should be done by passing a binding Security Council resolution according to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, affirming UNCCP Mandate. Knowing the problem there, facing the US veto, we may need a General Assembly resolution under “United for Peace” formula. Or else, Israel’s conditional membership in the UN can be revoked for its failing to meet its conditions of membership. UNRWA of course will be the main instrument for repatriation. It has a rich history and dedicated staff, ideal for the job.
With the return of the refugees, with no displacement to present occupants if they wish to live in a country with no racism or apartheid, you will have a permanent and cheap solution. You tried everything else and it failed. Try this one.
The doubters will say: the balance of power is against us. We are helpless. No we are not. If we were, Palestine will not be in the headlines today. We would be finished long time ago.
I say this to our Arab brothers: The Arab states should take an active, not passive, role to support Palestinian rights, as their own people constantly demand. It is no good to hide behind the slogan “we accept what Palestinians accept”. Arabs should rewrite the so-called Peace Initiative. Its article on refugees is faulty and misleading. The Right of Return is an inalienable right. How could it be conditional upon the acceptance of those who deny it?
And to the Palestinians, I say: keep your struggle, maintain your resilience and determination. As a priority, you must elect a new leadership to represent, truly and democratically, 11 million Palestinians, three quarters of whom are refugees. This new leadership will defend the Right of Return resolutely and effectively.
I say to all: no matter how you try, there will be no happy ending to conclude this unique tragedy (Slide 43) without restoring justice, without restoring the inalienable rights of the Palestinians. The proverbial pyramid must rest on its base of justice to stay stable. As the Quaker’s officer said six decades ago: the desire to return home is “as genuine and deep as a man’s longing for his home can be”.
Thank you. (Slide 44).