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memri
May 16, 2019 No.
8068

On 71st Nakba Day, Palestinian Authority, Fatah Emphasize: We Will Never Renounce Right Of Return, We Will Torpedo 'Deal Of The Century'

On May 15, 2019, the Palestinians marked Nakba Day. As every year on this occasion, the Palestinian right of return dominated the discourse of both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah. However, this year this discourse was doubly important, against the backdrop of the upcoming official announcement, expected in the next few weeks, of the details of the Trump administration's "Deal of the Century." According to leaks and assessments, the deal is not expected to include the right of return.

Senior PA and Fatah officials reiterated that there would be no concessions on this right, nor on any of the other Palestinian positions, and that they categorically reject the deal. Additionally, on its social media, Fatah posted  messages and posters emphasizing adherence to the right of return and rejecting relinquishing it.

This report presents statements by senior PA and Fatah officials on the matter, and examples of relevant posts on Fatah's Facebook page.

PA And Fatah: The Palestinian People Adheres To The Right Of Return, Opposes Deal Of The Century

In a communiqué, the PA Foreign Ministry stated that the commemoration of the 71st Nakba Day by the Palestinian people and its leadership conveys "its determination to torpedo the 'deal of the century.' [This day] will serve as a true platform for standing up to the despicable American measure and thwarting it... Our people's commemoration provides solid proof of its insistence on its just and legitimate national rights – its right of return, self-determination, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is further proof that there is no statute of limitation to Palestinian rights, as long as our people keeps the embers alive and remains steadfast on its homeland's soil, behind its sagacious leadership, as personified by President Mahmoud 'Abbas..."[1]

At a Ramadan iftar (break-fast) meal at Qalandia refugee camp, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Ishtayeh stressed: "The camp will continue to be a symbol of steadfastness and of the sacred right of return." He promised to "provide the [refugee] camp with all form of assistance to bolster the steadfastness of its residents, until they have returned to their land from which they were expelled."[2]

Fatah too released an announcement emphasizing that the Palestinian people "is [even] more determined to adhere to the legitimate national rights and principles, in conformity with international law and UN decisions, and first and foremost the right of return..." It underlined its opposition to the "deal of the century, the attempts to split the [Gaza] Strip from the West Bank, and the deplorable Trump declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the occupation state's capital."[3]

Senior Fatah officials made similar statements. During a march in the Gaza Strip,  PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Abu Houli, who heads the PLO's Palestinian Refugee Affairs Department, said: "The grand American scheme that targets [the Palestinians'] rights and principles via the American deal of the century, the implementation of which effectively began with Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to transfer the [U.S.] Embassy there, and which continued with the attack on UNRWA and the ending of its funding... shall not pass, and will be thrown on the trash heap of history... The Palestinian leadership will not agree to [any] substitute for return, and it rejects all plans for granting citizenship [to the refugees in their current country of residence], expulsion, compensation, and an alternative homeland... [4]

Fatah Revolutionary Council Member: "I – The Refugee – Will Return To The Old-New Palestine, To Haifa, Safed, Lod, Ramla, [And] The Galilee"

Similarly, Fatah Revolutionary Council member Muwafaq Matar wrote in his column in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "The Palestinian refugees' right of return is tied to the refugee's free choice and personal decision, as it is a sacred personal right. No force in the world can prevent those who possess this right from actualizing it, and it will never expire. The staunch adherence by the refugees and their political leadership to the right of return to their natural and historic land is not an option; rather, it is destiny..."[5]

Two days later, Matar wrote in his column: "I – the refugee – will return to the old-new Palestine, to Haifa, Safed, Lod, Ramla, [and] the Galilee; to its sea, mountains, air, sands, rivers; to its Negev wilderness... its Jerusalem, the city of Allah – since its holy cities are not for sale."[6]


Woodpecker Trump attempts to peck away at the key symbolizing the right of return (Image: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA, May 15, 2019)

Posters On Fatah's Facebook Page: The Right Of Return Is A Red Line; We Will Never Give It Up

Along with the announcements and official statements, Fatah posted numerous messages on its official Facebook page underlining that there will be no concession on the right of return. Below are a few examples:


"The right of return is a red line that cannot be circumvented or conceded" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 15, 2019)


"71 years since the Nakba; we have not forgotten and there will be no concession on the right of return" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 14, 2019)


"71 years – and in the refugee camps the hope of return persists" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 14, 2019)


"UNRWA will remain until [the right of] return is actualized." (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 14, 2019)


"We will return, whether Trump and Netanyahu like it or not" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 14, 2019)


"All the schemes against the refugees' cause will fail." (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 14, 2019)


"From the ashes of the Nakba until the return is realized – we will thwart all the schemes." (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 14, 2019)


"...We emphasize the right of return and reject any concession on the Palestinians' principles" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 15, 2019)


"71 years since the Nakba; the return remains the people's right and will" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 15, 2019)


"71 years [have passed], but we are returning" (Image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, May 15, 2019)

 

[1] Wafa.ps, May 14, 2019.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 15, 2019.

[3] Fathemedia.ps, May 14, 2019.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 15, 2019.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 14, 2019.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 16, 2019.