THE RIGHT OF RETURN IS NON-NEGOTIABLE – Palestinians declare

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A NUMBER of Palestinian faction leaders and representatives emphasised last Saturday, that the refugee issue and the right of return is a Palestinian right.

They added that the statements by King Abdullah of Jordan on negotiating this issue are rejected because they are ‘disappointing’.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said that no one has the right to give up the Palestinian people’s right to return because there is Palestinian consensus on their right of return.

In a statement to Ramattan News Agency, Barhum noted that all international charters and laws guaranteed this right, which must be achieved by allowing the refugees to return without bargaining over their right.

He said: ‘More than five million Palestinians are displaced outside of the Palestinian territories and they have the right to return to their homes.’

Barhum pointed out that the Palestinian people’s return is a guaranteed right, which must be enforced at the Arab governments and international level, in addition to enforcing the Arab League’s resolutions.

He said if this issue is to be resolved, the blockade of the Palestinian people must be lifted and financial and political support must be provided to the government.

Also, a powerful Arab alliance must be set up against the US government, which supports the Israeli government, in order to reinforce the Palestinian people’s steadfastness.

Barhum said that there is an Israeli plan to prevent the refugees from returning to their land and to leave them displaced in order to erase Palestinian sovereignty.

He asserted that such plans will not work, especially in light of the Palestinians’ determination to resist and their insistence on the need for the refugees to return to their homes.

Commenting on the state of security lawlessness, Barhum said there is lawlessness and as a result of it, journalist Allan Johnston was kidnapped more than a month ago and bombings were recently carried out in the Palestinian territories. He added that this situation requires an urgent resolution by implementing the security plan.

For his part, Khadr Habib, a leading figure in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] Movement, said that the people reject the Jordanian king’s statements on negotiating the issue of the refugees because these statements dash the Palestinian people’s hopes of returning to their cities and villages.

Habib said the aim behind these statements is to circumvent the Palestinian people’s right of return.

He added: ‘These statements do not serve the Palestinian people. Rather, they serve the Israeli government at the expense of the Palestinians.’

Habib asserted that these statements are rejected because they are intended to promote the Arab peace initiative, which calls for the annulment of the right of return.

He added that the international community and all parties that seek stability in the region should guarantee the refugees’ right of return as the best way to resolve the refugee issue.

Turning to the recent bombings in the Gaza Strip, Habib denounced these bombings and called on the parties concerned to respond firmly to such acts and to try the perpetrators because these acts undermine security.

Speaking to Ramattan News Agency, the spokesman for the Fatah Movement Mahir Miqdad said: ‘We will not bargain over the right of return.

‘This right represents the dream and ambition of the people who offered a large number of martyrs.

‘There can be no substitute for this land on which the people struggled using all means in their possession.’

Miqdad noted that many options were proposed on the refugee issue, most prominently the right of return. However, he added, the people will not accept payment of compensation for this right.

On a separate issue, Miqdad said that the situation in the Gaza Strip is unstable and it serves as a good climate for anyone who seeks to negatively influence political decisions.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Association for Protection of Islamic Endowments and Holy Sites has revealed that some Jewish organisations are manufacturing forgeries of documents aimed at illegally purchasing Arab properties in the old city area of Jerusalem.

The forgery and deception is being conducted through registering Jerusalemite lands to the names of Arab citizens who do not originally possess any lands in Jerusalem.

Extremist Israeli groups then come to those people and submit the forged documents, showing that there are lands registered in the Lands Department under their names.

They offer those people huge amounts of money in return for selling properties which they never owned, nor even knew about.

The conspiracy was unfolded when an elderly Palestinian man from the village of Qalansawa in ‘the triangle area’ inside Israel, told the Al-Aqsa Association that ‘a Jewish extremist group had came to his home offering a large sum of money in return for 2,600 square meters in Jerusalem registered under his name.’

They then showed him the ownership document. The old man added, ‘I kicked them out and told them that they are plotting a trick, since I never owned the span of a hand in Jerusalem.’

The director of the media department of the Islamic movement and spokesperson of the Al-Aqsa association, Shaykh Khalid Muhanna, warned of the dangers of this phenomenon, which, it has been noted has been rising in frequency recently.

He accused the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem in particular, and the Israeli government in general of taking a big share with these far right-wing groups.

He based his accusations on the supposition that ‘such groups could not wander along the length of the country carrying bags loaded with money and forged documents without the assistance of formal governmental institutions and departments’.

As well, the Israeli establishment says it is worried that Hamas is prparing to carry out another kidnapping of Israeli Defence Forces soldiers despite the official cease-fire.

According to the Isral;ei media, the preparations include the training of special forces, such as the one that carried out the attack in which (Israeli soldier) Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip, and the digging of tunnels around the fence surrounding the Strip.

Vigilance has consequently been increased in the Israeli defence establishment in order to thwart kidnapping attempts.

Warnings about the organisation’s alleged intention to carry out another kidnapping attack have existed for some time, but they have recently taken on an increasing sharpness.

The Israeli defence establishment is treating Hamas’s declarations about its intentions to kidnap soldiers as another means of exerting pressure in the psychological warfare accompanying the negotiations on Shalit’s return.

However, there are also assessments according to which further kidnapping attempts are likely even before the negotiations between the sides are exhausted.

Warnings have mounted in the IDF and in the Shin Bet secret police about the preparations being made in Hamas for a possible kidnapping.

The suspicion is that tunnels being dug around the Gaza Strip are likely to be used in kidnappings, or to allow infiltrators to carry out an attack inside the Green Line areas.

The Israeli military say that there is a consensus among the Palestinian public that supports kidnappings as the only way of obtaining the release of prisoners, and Hamas is not the only organisation that is considering electing to use the method.