May 24, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4752

Nakba Day 2012: PLO, Hamas Demand To Realize Right Of Return

May 24, 2012
Special Dispatch No. 4752

This year, as in previous years, the Palestinians marked Nakba Day with processions, rallies, moments of silence, sports competitions, and calls from across the Palestinian political spectrum to realize the right of return.

The following are excerpts of some speeches and statements from Nakba Day 2012:

PLO: There Is No Alternative To The Right Of Return

In a May 15, 2012 speech on the occasion of Nakba Day, PA President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud 'Abbas said: "The [Palestinian] people adheres to its national rights and enshrines in its memory the names of its cities and villages, even if [these cities and villages] have changed. On Nakba Day, we turn to the world with the following message: After 64 years, despite all the crimes [that have been perpetrated] against our right and all the initiatives to expel and resettle us, we remain upon this soil like the oak and olive trees... The PLO upholds the refugees' right of return, [for] it is a sacred right...

"Our generation, the Nakba generation, remembers the years immediately following 1948, and the suffering of those who remained in the homeland and of those who became refugees in their own country or outside it. All of them have suffered equally. People searched for their brothers and mothers searched for their sons, trying to survive, but they never forgot Palestine or their right to Palestine. The homeland remained [alive] in their hearts and consciences." 'Abbas emphasized that the struggle to realize the Palestinian principles – including the right of return, based on UN Resolution 194 and on the Arab peace initiative – carried on in various ways.[1]

At a Nakba Day march in Gaza, Zakaria Al-Agha, head of the PLO's Department of Refugee Affairs, said: "We will never accept any alternative to the right of return, and we reject the resettlement plans." Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-'Aloul wrote on a Fatah-affiliated website: "The slogan of 'the right of return' must be replaced with an [actual] struggle to realize this right... We must stick to our principles and the right of return, and be steadfast without showing any flexibility."[2]

A Fatah communiqué stated: "The Palestinian people in the diaspora have the right of return, [and] we must ensure [the people's] legitimate rights, which have been upheld in international treaties and laws. The [Fatah] movement pledges to continue on the path of legitimate struggle until the national goals are met, and it adheres to the [Palestinian] principles and legitimate rights, chief among them the right of the refugees to return to their cities, villages, homes, and lands."[3]

Columnist Baha Rahal wrote in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "On May 15, the day of Nakba and migration, when the Palestinian people were banished and uprooted from their land and home, [and] their cities and villages were destroyed by the Nazi Zionist organizations Haganah and Lehi, who drove the residents out at gunpoint, under threat of murder... [on this day,] we dream of Jaffa oranges and Mount Carmel in Haifa. Our memories and the history of our forefathers are testament to our usurped right, an eternal right that will never be forgotten and will never fade with time... We have not forgotten the wind of the Galilee, the anthem to life in Tel Aviv, and the smell of the narcissus at the foot of Mount Carmel. All of Palestine! We remember you, and you [live] within us, in pain and sadness, so long as we are far from you and until we return to you – to Haifa, Acre, and Jaffa, and to all of historical Palestine."[4]

Hamas: It Is The Right Of Every Palestinian To Liberate All Of Palestine

A communiqué issued by Hamas' Information Ministry in Gaza stated that no agreement or treaty could eradicate the right of return, and that "all forms of resistance, chief among them armed resistance, will remain the true option to restore the land and the holy places, and to realize [the goals of] liberation and return."[5]

In an article posted on a Hamas-affiliated website, columnist Dr. 'Issam 'Adwan wrote that the return to Palestine would be achieved through jihad: "Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine."[6]

At a press conference following a Nakba Day march, Legislative Council member Mushir Al-Masri, from Hamas, said: "Wherever they are, the refugees yearn to return to Jaffa, Haifa, and all the Palestinian lands from which they were exiled... The right of return is sacred, [and is both] personal and collective; it must not be relinquished, compromised, or negotiated over. It is the right of the martyrs and injured who gave their blood, and the right of us all, just as it was [the right of] our forefathers, to liberate all of Palestine."[7]

A similar statement was also made by Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who said that the right of return cannot be relinquished.[8]

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[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 15, 2012.

[2], May 15, 2012.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 15, 2012.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 15, 2012.

[5], May 15, 2012.

[6];, May 15, 2012.

[7], May 15, 2012.

[8] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 20, 2012.

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