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May 17, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5302

Fatah Marks 65th Nakba Day: We Cling To The Refugees' Right To Return To Their Homes In The 1948 Territories

May 17, 2013
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5302

For the 65th Nakba Day, Fatah and its spokesmen underlined their continued adherence to the Palestinian refugees' right of return to their homes in all of the 1948 territory, and noted that that this sacred right is passed down from father to son and is not to be bargained over. Articles in the Palestinian Authority (PA) daily newspapers stressed that Palestinian children would not forget the Nakba of their fathers, and that they were determined to return to their homes in Ramla, Lod, Jaffa, Haifa, Beersheba, Acre, and all the rest of the 1948 territories.

These statements demonstrate Fatah's dual position. On the one hand, it supports a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders – and, with the backing of the Arab League, has expressed willingness to agree to some land swaps – and also advocates a just and agreed-upon solution for the refugee problem. On the other hand, it expresses its commitment to the principle of the refugees' right to return to their homes within the 1948 territories. A clear expression of this duality can be seen in Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas's Nakba Day speech, in which he reiterated his support for a two-state solution and a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, but, at the same time, chose to speak of a "just solution" to the refugee problem, rather than "a just and agreed-upon solution," which is the phrasing used in the Arab peace initiative.[1]

The following are excerpts of statements by Fatah and PA spokesmen:

'Abbas: The Refugees Are Living In The Host Countries Temporarily, Until The Return

In his Nakba Day speech, 'Abbas thanked the Arab states for hosting the Palestinian refugees "who are living there temporarily, until the return," and added: "We are feeling very positive about all the international efforts towards a two-state solution and an end to the occupation that started in 1967, [namely the efforts of] the Quartet and the activity of State Secretary John Kerry. We [also] cling to our national principles that correspond to the U.N. resolutions: the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and a just solution for the refugee [problem] according to U.N. Resolution 194."[2]

Fatah: The Sacred Right Of Return Is Bequeathed By Fathers To Their Sons

Fatah issued a press announcement on the occasion of Nakba Day, via its spokesman Fayez Abu 'Aittah: "The [Fatah] movement clings to the Palestinian refugees' right of return to the homes from which they were forcibly expelled... The sacred right of return is bequeathed by fathers to their sons... This right never expires; the Palestinian people will continue their struggle by all legitimate ways and means until they achieve an independent state and a return to the homes from which they were expelled."[3]

Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki said, "There is no solution [to the Palestinian problem] without the Palestinian people's return to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948." He added that the Palestinians were opposed to all schemes aimed at undermining, disregarding or circumventing this right.[4]

Zakariyya Al-Agha, PLO Executive Committee member and head of the PLO Refugees Department, said: "There is no permanent solution for peace with Israel that excludes the refugee problem... The refugees' right of return to their homes is a sacred right that is not subject to bargaining." He also noted that the Palestinians cannot accept Israel's demand to recognize the Jewish state because that would mean the elimination of the refugees' right of return.[5]

PLO, PA Representatives, Fatah Movement: The Struggle Will Continue, By Any Means

In their Nakba Day statements and speeches, PLO, PA and Fatah figures and institutions noted the willingness of the Palestinian people to fight and die for Palestinian land. A communiqué issued by the Palestinian National Council stated: "The national Palestinian rights to return, according to Resoution 194, and to self-determination, are firm and deeply rooted rights that cannot be relinquished and regarding which there can be no compromise. The Palestinian people will return to the land and homes from which they were expelled, no matter how long it takes... The Palestinian people will continue the fight and the struggle by all means at its disposal, in order to rid itself of the ongoing Nakba."[6]

Fatah's Supreme Committee in Gaza also released a Nakba Day communiqué, in which it called on the international community to "rectify the historic injustice and to pressure the Israeli government to implement the UN resolutions regarding the Palestinian problem, particularly Resolution 194... and the right of the Palestinian people to its homeland and its homes."[7]

Tubas district governor Marwan Tubasi noted the shapers of history, those who fired the first bullet, and those who fought and struggled, and called for intensifying the popular resistance.[8] Qalqiliya district governor Rabih Al-Khandaqji called Nakba Day "a message to the occupation and to the series of revolutions [in the Arab world, namely], that on this land there is a deeply rooted people that will defend it and die for it."[9]

At a Nakba Day rally in Ramallah, PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousuf vowed on behalf of the Palestinian people to continue the struggle, and accused the U.S. of pro-Israel bias and of trying to take advantage of the situation in the Arab countries by pressuring them and extorting concessions from them.[10]

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: The Children Will Not Forget The Nakba And They Cling To The Right Of Return

In an article in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, titled "The Old [Generation] Has Died Out, But The Young Haven't Forgotten," writer Bashar Daraghameh described the Balata refugee camp in Nablus as place where change never comes, where "the raw sewage flowing between the residents' homes gives off a stench, and their memories are painful. The children still play in the alleyways, and the greengrocers still stop cars at the entrance to the camp, handing drivers out-of-season oranges that were probably not Jaffa-grown... The suffering remains visible, the return hasn't been realized, and the key [to the old family home] still hangs [on the wall].

"Whoever says that the old will die and the young will forget is lying. The children of the camp have not forgotten the Nakba of their forefathers... They cling to the right of return, and their determination grows. They are sick of their path of torments, and want to get back to Jaffa and eat an orange plucked by their own hands – not like the oranges sold at the camp entrance."[11]


Fatah Facebook page: Palestinian child at Ramallah rally with headband reading "Lifta [Village], 1948 Territories"


Fatah Facebook page: "Return Is The People's Right And The People's Will"

Al-Ayyam Columnist: We Shall Remain In Lod, Ramla, And The Galilee... As A Thorn In Their Eye

Hamada Farana, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, spoke out against the Arab peace initiative, claiming that it had stripped the right of return of all meaning because it stated that the refugee problem had to be resolved with Israel's agreement. He claimed that this constitutes "relinquishing in advance, and for nothing, the right of return according to Resolution 194, which includes three rights: the refugees' return to their land in the 1948 territories, the return of property looted and confiscated from them by the Hebrew state, and payment of restitution to the Palestinian people for its suffering... from the Nakba to now."

According to Farana, the second concession to Israel for which the Palestinians receive nothing in return is agreeing to land swaps. (As mentioned, the Arab League recently consented to land swaps between Israel and the PA as part of a two-state solution and establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders). He argued that this means that "the refugees will not return to Lod, Ramla, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and Beersheba, from which they were expelled, and their qushans [deeds to the land] and the keys to their houses will remain [useless] in their hands."

Farana stressed that the Palestinians would continue to strive to realize their right of return, regardless of the circumstances and for as long as it takes: "We will starve, we will live under the open sky... we will fill the streets with rage and demonstrations, we will fill the prisons with pride, we will turn the children into generation after generation of avengers, we will remain here... Here the past is our present and our future. We will remain here in Lod, Ramla and the Galilee; we will remain here upon your necks as an impediment, as a shard of glass in your throats, and as a thorn in your eye... Get out of our country, of our land, of our sea... get out of our memory."[12]


Fatah Facebook page: "The Day Will Come When We Will Return To Jaffa"

Fatah's Facebook page[13] devoted much attention to Nakba Day in the last week, posting speeches and statements made by Fatah members on the occasion, and reports about Nakba Day demonstrations and rallies in the West Bank, as well as special activities carried out in schools. It also posted movies and songs for the occasion, and numerous cartoons emphasizing the Palestinians' right to return to their homes within the 1948 territories.


Fatah Facebook page: Hebron school pupils form map of Palestine


Fatah Facebook page: "We return to Haifa, Acre, Sakhnin and all of Palestine"


Fatah Facebook page: "One day, we shall return"

Endnotes:

[1] 'Abbas himself also used the latter phrasing in his September 23, 2011 U.N. speech. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 24, 2013.

[2] Amad.ps, May 15, 2013.

[3] Wafa (Palestinian Authority), May 15, 2013.

[4] Fatehtoday.com, April 14, 2013.

[5] Amad.ps, May 15, 2013.

[6] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), May 15, 2013.

[7] Amad.ps, May 15, 2013.

[8] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2013.

[9] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2013.

[10] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2013.

[11] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2013.

[12] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2013.

[13] Facebook.com/fatehal3sfh.

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