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memri
October 10, 2018 No.
7704

Archival – PLO Ambassador To Lebanon In 2011: Palestinian Refugees Will Not Be Citizens Of The Independent Palestinian State

In a September 15, 2011 interview with The Daily Star, an English-language Lebanese daily, PLO Ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah said that Palestinian refugees – both those living in Palestine and those residing outside it – would not automatically become citizens of the independent Palestinian state. Rather, they would remain refugees and would continue to claim the right to return to their homes within the 1948 territories. Thus, the establishment of a Palestinian state would not be the end of the conflict, but only "a new framework that will change the rules of the game," he stressed.

The following are excerpts from the interview:[1]

 


PLO Ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah (image: The Daily Star, Lebanon)

"The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. 'They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,' he says. 'But … they are not automatically citizens.'

"This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that 'even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.'

"Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would 'absolutely not' be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

"Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. 'How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.' He says statehood 'will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.'

"The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. 'The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.'

"The Palestinian Liberation Organization would remain responsible for refugees, and Abdullah says that UNRWA would continue its work as usual."

 

 

[1] The Daily Star (Lebanon), September 15, 2011.