Friday, January 11, 2013

'Israel agrees to resettle Palestinians from Syria only if they relinquish their Right of Return'

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has rejected a conditional Israeli offer to let Palestinian refugees from Syria resettle in the West Bank and Gaza, AP reports.
Abbas asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last month to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria's civil war to the Palestinian territories. The request came after fighting between Syrian troops and rebel fighters  in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. About half of the camp's 150,000 residents have fled, according to a U.N. aid agency.
Abbas told a group of Egyptian journalists in Cairo late Wednesday that Ban contacted Israel on his behalf. and was told that Israel "agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee ... sign a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)." "So we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return," Abbas said. Some of his comments were published Thursday by the Palestinian news website Sama.
The Israeli condition linked to the resettlement offer made it impossible for Abbas to accept, said Ahmed Hanoun, an official in the refugee department of the Palestine Liberation Organization. "I think the Israelis were not serious about this offer," said Hanoun. "If they were, they would have endorsed the return of these people who live in misery, and not to blackmail them to relinquish their legal rights."
Officials in Israel's Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's Office declined comment Thursday.

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