|So what exactly is the deal with refugees within the context of the current negotiations? Well, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been quoted as saying "I don't think there are any circumstances under which they will be able to return to Israel. A solution for them should be found in countries where they are now living."
But Emile Lahoud, president of Lebanon has made the return of refugees from his country a precondition for peace with Israel. Many Lebanese blame Palestinian guerrilla groups for fuelling Lebanon's fifteen year civil war. Palestinians are not welcome in Lebanon. Beirut has denied them political and civil rights as wellas basic services so as not to encourage them to stay.
That's "right of return" in regards to Israel. But what about right of return to a Palestinian state? Apparently this is an open question.
According to a commentary in Ha'aretz a couple weeks ago, over the next few months Israel will have to decide whether it agrees, in exchange for a Palestinian concession waiving the right of return to within Israel's biorders, thatthese refugees may immigrate to a soverign Palestinian state.
Such a far-reaching agreement would be difficult for both parties. But if it is achieved, an agreement would then have to be worked out regarding how many refugees could immigrate and at what pace.
But now today I read this in Ha'aretz: "Does Barak actually believe that, in return for recognition of their independent state, the Palestinians will be willing to renounce their right not only to return to their home within the boundaries of the State of Israel but also to renounce the alternative of a 'return' to a home within the boundaries of an independent Palestine? After all, the raison d'etre of a Palestinian state is precisely to enable the refugees to come home and the peace agreements with Israel are being signed on their behalf."
This confuses me because it implies that Barak is ateempting to curtail the right of return to ANY territory. Was the definition of "soverign nation" changed when I wasn't looking? Or is that the point#151;no State of Palestine will be created.
Isn't this precisely what Edward Said was referring to weeks ago when he wroteof the Israeli-American intention to reduce the Palestinian case to a matter only of residency on the West Bank and in Gaza, not of disposession or national eviction?
What of the refugees?