On The ‘Right Of Return’ – Where Precisely Are You Returning?

by Jonathon Narvey

A critical stumbling block for these negotiations has been about allowing Palestinians to settle in Israel in unrestricted numbers following a peace deal. That is to say, not only the original refugees from 1948 or 1967, but the millions of their descendants worldwide – a weird category of refugee that has no precedent anywhere else in the world.

Palestinians base their claim of "Right of Return" on the Israeli practice of granting citizenship to Jews from the diaspora community. Yet Gadi Taub pointed out the problem with this view in a YNet op ed last year: “The Palestinian 'right of return' is not similar to the Law of Return, but rather, to the same “right” demanded by the settlers – the right of Jews to live in all parts of Eretz Yisrael, including areas that will be part of a future Palestinian state.”

The demographic deluge would result in not two states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian, but two Palestinian states that could be merged into a single state and potentially into a far grander Islamic Caliphate stretching from Morocco to Central Asia.

How can this be true? Even to some supposedly well-informed Middle East correspondents, the plot I’ve outlined would appear to be blatant Zionist propaganda.

But as it happens, this description of the Palestinian negotiators’ goals was made very clear by Faisal Husseini (1940-2001), Fatah leader and PA Minister for Jerusalem to Al-Arabi (Egypt), June 24, 2001, in comments that have never been refuted by any Palestinian leader:

“If we agree to declare our state over what is now only 22% of Palestine, meaning the West Bank and Gaza – our ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, even if this means that the conflict will last for another thousand years or for many generations.

"In short, we are exactly like they are. We distinguish the strategic, long-term goals from the political phased goals, which we are compelled to temporarily accept due to international pressure. If you are asking me as a Pan-Arab nationalist what are the Palestinian borders according to the higher strategy, I will immediately reply: "From the river to the sea." Palestine in its entirety is an Arab land, the land of the Arab nation, a land no one can sell or buy, and it is impossible to remain silent while someone is stealing it, even if this requires time and even [if it means paying] a high price.

"If you are asking me, as a man who belongs to the Islamic faith, my answer is also "From the river to the sea," the entire land is an Islamic Waqf which can not be bought or sold, and it is impossible to remain silent while someone is stealing it …

"If you are asking me as an ordinary Palestinian, from the "inside" or from the Diaspora, you will get the same answer and without any hesitations."

Fatah is often contrasted with the terrorist organization Hamas as a more moderate entity. And that certainly is the case when one compares the government of the West Bank with that of Gaza. The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is far more willing to work with both Israel and the international community in providing concrete benefits to their population.

Yet when it comes to the ultimate aims of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, it is difficult to see how they differ from the genocidal Islamist group. In 2001, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told journalist Flore de Preneuf what their territorial goals encompassed "All of Israel, Tel Aviv included, is occupied Palestine."

Will Palestinians be willing to make concessions on their “right of return”? Palestinians are free to dream of a state stretching from the river to the sea that will come to them at some point in the future – 500 years, a thousand years, ten thousand years. But if they do want a country here and now, they’re going to have to settle for one state, now two.