DEPRIVING Palestinian refugees of their basic rights is a recipe for trouble, says PLO official Hanan Ashrawi. Depriving 5.3 million Palestinian refugees of their right to education, health and work by dismantling the international agency that has been taking care of them since their forced dispersion in 1948 is an invitation for trouble not only in Palestine, but also in the region where the Palestinian refugees are based, Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said on Wednesday.
She accused the United States of being ‘extremely cruel’ when it decided last month to stop $360 million in annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in a bid to end its role and eventually end the refugee issue.
Ashrawi accused the administration of US President Donald Trump of working to serve Israel’s interests and doing things that Israel itself would have never thought of doing.
‘They (the Americans) have taken concrete steps that even Israel would not implement, totally destroying all components of peace and credibility,’ she said.
Ashrawi added that the US, with its ‘bashing Palestine’ efforts, is defying international humanitarian law and waging a war against international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN Human Rights Council because the Palestinians seek their intervention to protect them and their rights.
The PLO official said that as part of its efforts to dismantle UNRWA and end the refugee issue, the US administration is trying to talk to Arab countries to re-settle the refugees in their land but that none of the host countries, namely Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, have agreed to this.
Ashrawi said that the PLO is considering ending its ties with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the US has cut all other humanitarian aid to the Palestinians but kept only aid to the security forces as part of its efforts to ensure Israel’s security.
She said the Palestinians are also considering many other options to counter the US measures against them that included, in addition to stopping funding of UNRWA, stopping $200 million to economic projects and $20 million to Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem, and closing the PLO office in Washington.
These options include taking the US to the International Court of Justice over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which she said was a grave violation of international law and resolutions.
Ashrawi said that on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo accords in Washington in 1993, the situation today is ‘at its lowest point ever since 1948’.
She said the hopes generated with Oslo were quickly dashed by Israel’s actions and its failure to honour its obligations in the Oslo accords. ‘Oslo contributed to the current situation,’ she said. ‘As flawed as Oslo was, Israel still violated it,’ she said, adding: ‘Oslo is now left meaningless.’
• Rising concern at home and internationally over Israeli plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar village, east of Jerusalem, was highlighted on the front page of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Wednesday. Al-Ayyam, which made this subject its main front page story, said efforts are underway on the ground and politically to prevent the demolition.
Al-Quds said five European countries have called on Israel not to demolish the village.
Al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Quds said the Israeli military authorities closed all roads leading to Khan al-Ahmar to prevent activists from reaching it. Al-Hayat al-Jadida said activists were also able to build another community nearby called al-Wad al-Ahmar (or the Red Valley).
Al-Quds quoted Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), saying that Palestine has delivered a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over Khan al-Ahmar.
Erekat was also quoted in al-Hayat al-Jadida saying that the Palestinians will continue to work with the ICC regardless of the US bullying. He also said President Mahmoud Abbas is going to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 27th.
Al-Quds said Abbas is going to first travel to France and meet Emmanuel Macron before he travels to New York for the UN meetings.
Al-Ayyam quoted President Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, saying that the PLO’s Central Council is going to meet after the return of the president from the UN.
On the American decision to close the PLO office in Washington, al-Quds quoted a US official saying the PLO has to end its work in the US on Thursday, while al-Ayyam quoted officials saying the office will close before October 10th after all employees are dismissed and the office is evacuated.
Al-Quds quoted a Palestinian source saying that US President Donald Trump is going to declare re-settlement of the Palestinian refugees next year and that a US delegation headed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is going to travel to the region soon to discuss this matter.
The paper also quoted observers saying the US is pushing the Palestinians to accept its so-called ‘deal of the century’. Al-Ayyam said Jewish settlers are setting up homes for a new settlement outpost in the Jordan Valley.
Al-Quds reported on the intra-Palestinian reconciliation and quoted Hamas saying that reconciliation efforts are continuing. It quoted former Hamas leader Khaled Meshal saying that Hamas wants the Israeli blockade on Gaza to end without going through direct negotiations. It also quoted an Israeli military official ruling out the possibility of reaching a deal with Hamas on calm.
Al-Hayat al-Jadida quoted President Abbas saying after meeting a Palestinian delegation that it is important to support Jerusalem and its holy places.
Al-Quds said that September 13th marked 25 years for signing the Oslo accords between the PLO and Israel.
• Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu applauded, on Wednesday, the United States decision to close the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) office in Washington in response to the Palestinian alleged rejection to go into direct peace negotiations with Israel.
According to Israeli Ynet news outlet, Netanyahu said that ‘the US made the correct decision when it decided to close the PLO offices in Washington’. ‘The Palestinians refuse to enter negotiations with Israel even as they attack Israel with false claims in international forums,’ Netanyahu said during the opening of the weekly Israeli Cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu said: ‘Israel very much appreciates the Trump administration’s decision and supports American actions that are designed to make it clear to the Palestinians that the refusal to enter into negotiations with Israel and the unbridled attacks against Israel will not only not advance peace but will certainly not make things better for the Palestinians.’
Netanyahu also criticised European countries’ policy towards Iran: ‘On the contrary, what we are seeing is that while Iran is sending terrorist cells to Europe, European leaders are appeasing – and reconciling with – Iran, in the same week that the terrorist cells were due to carry out their operations, which we helped thwart. This is unacceptable.
‘The appeasement of Iran abets the relentless assault on the values and security of the free societies, and the time has come for Western governments to join the strong and clear effort by the Trump administration against the terror regime in Tehran,’ he concluded.