Saturday, August 30, 2008

Between the Lines: Abu Mazen Brings Up His Own Can of Worms

This article, Abbas, Gemayel cite need to improve refugees' conditions, pubished in Lebanon's Daily Star, directly deals with the alleged need to improve conditions for Arabs in Lebanon who are inaccurately and misleadingly referred to as refugees.

Between the lines, it serves as a reminder of issues that both Abbas and Gemayel certainly hope everyone keeps ignoring.

Abbas, Gemayel cite need to improve refugees' conditions

By Nafez Qawas
Daily Star correspondent
Saturday, August 30, 2008

BEIRUT: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas concluded his two-day trip to Beirut on Friday by holding talks with an array of Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab figures.

Abbas met former President Amine Gemayel at the Habtoor Grand Hotel in Sin al-Fil to discuss issues related to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

[There are actually very few "Palestinian refugees" in Lebanon.

All the actual refugees are at least 60 years old and most are past retirement age.

There are, unfortunately, children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of refugees who have been cruelly forced to live as if they were refugees.

The Lebanese government has cruelly refused to allow these people, born in Lebanon, citizenship and made them stateless people. This has been a disaster not only for the people involved, but for Lebanon and was probably the most important factor in turning Lebanon from a jewel to a civil-war wreacked disaster.]

"President Abbas and we agree that it is imperative to introduce drastic improvements to the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and we also agree on rejecting the settlement of Palestinians," Gemayel told reporters.

[When the ancestors of these so-called "Palestinians" fled to Lebanon, they specifically rejected being identified as Palestinian, an identity then generally associated with the Jews.

It's rather ironic and symptomatic of the pathological Arab war against Israel that the "Palestinian" identity was adopted by people who are really native Lebanese and don't really have ties to Palestine.]

Gemayel dubbed Abbas' trip to Beirut as "historic," adding that he hoped the visit would strengthen relations between the two countries and help lead "to a comprehensive solution in Palestine and Lebanon."

"We are fighting a battle together for common peace and stability in the region," he said.

[If that was the case, they would be reaching for the arm Israel has long stretched out to them in peace.]

Gemayel added that Abbas stressed that the Palestinian Authority will "endorse and support all the decisions made by the Lebanese government."

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Abbas said Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should not be permanently resettled in the country and should abide by their host country's rules.

"The Palestinians have the right of return and this is an issue we are discussing with the Israelis," Abbas told a media conference after the meeting.

"We are against the resettlement of Palestinians in Lebanon," he added.

[If Abbas doesn't want these people to "resettle" in what is their native land, he might want to bring them over to the portions of Palestine he controls. Alternatively, he might suggest they move to the existing Palestinian Arab state on the east bank of the Jordan River.]

An estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps in Lebanon. Most of Palestinian refugees came to Lebanon when the state of Israel was created in 1948. There are fears among the Lebanese that their permanent settlement would shift the country's sectarian balance.

Abbas also said he endorsed the Lebanese government's 2006 decision that Palestinian factions outside of the camps should be disarmed.

The Palestinian camps in Lebanon are considered to be unstable, with security incidents taking place frequently.

Last year the army fought a deadly 15-week battle against Al-Qaeda inspired Fatah al-Islam militant group in the Northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. More than 400 people, including 168 soldiers, were killed in the fighting which left the camp almost entirely destroyed.

On Friday, Abbas also met with a delegation of Arab Ambassadors operating in Beirut, Palestinian Liberation Organization officials in Lebanon, as well as a delegation from the pro-opposition National Christian Gathering, and the head of the Palestinian-Lebanese Dialogue committee Ambassador Khalil Makkawi.

Abbas also made phone calls to Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, Roman Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, and vice president of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan.

Following his meeting with Abbas, UAE Ambassador Ahmad Sultan al-Soueidi said that the settlement of Palestinians in Lebanon was "extensively" discussed during the talks.

"No Palestinian accepts to settle in a land other than theirs" Soueidi told reporters. He added that discussions also focused on the issue of Palestinian weapons in Lebanon.

"Our fellow Palestinian refugees are guests in Lebanon and should abide by Lebanese rules and regulations," the ambassador said.

Asked whether Arab sates were willing to contribute to the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared, Soueidi said that the matter was not discussed with Abbas, "but we are following up on the issue with the Lebanese government and NGOs.

Why, six decades after the Arab invasion was repelled by Israel, are many of the descendents of the Arabs who then left what is now Israel still forced to live in refugee camps, not only in Lebanon, but even in the areas that have long been controlled by the Palestinian Authority?

One might suspect even the Palestinian Arabs themselves are more interested in destroying the Jewish state than in their own welfare.

Once again, Golda Meir's observation about peace coming when Arab parents start loving their children more than they hate Israelis comes to mind.

Even a so-called moderate like Abbas/Abu Mazen is far more interested in harming the Jews than in helping his own people.

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