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June 03, 1988 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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early unnoticed in
the "land-for-peace"
debate — a debate
held almost entirely between
Americans and Israelis, be-
tween Washington and Jer-
usalem — is the fact that the
Palestinian Arabs put an-
other demand at the top of
their list: the "right-of-
return," their insistence on
repatriation.
"Land-for-peace" sees the
Arab-Israeli conflict in the
context of the 1967 Six Day
War and Israeli control of the
West Bank (Judea and
Samaria), the Gaza Strip and
Golan Heights and the Arabs
who live there.
Arabs demanding a "right-
of-return" focus on the crimes,
in their view, committed
against them in 1948. For
them the underlying griev-
ance is not the occupation of
the territories, it is the oc-
cupation of Haifa, Jaffa,
Ramle, Beersheva and all the
rest, as well as Jerusalem.
As the uprising continues,
Israelis across the political
spectrum again face a chal-
lenge they thought had been
disposed of in 1948 — or at
least after 1967; the
challenge to Israel's existence,
not to its current boundaries.
As a result, Israeli attitudes
are hardening, according to
Prof. Clinton Bailey, Tel Aviv
University authority on
Palestinian Arab
nationalism.
The centrality of the "right-
of-return" underlay the in-
ability of the three Pales-
tinian Arab panelists on ABC
TV's recent "Nightline"
debate to be able to un-
equivocally say they could
accept a pre-1967 Israel in
exchange for a West Bank
and Gaza state.
It was repeated in leaflet
15, issued April 30 by the
leaders of the uprising. They
noted "a qualitative leap in
the international balance of
power in favor of our people's
national rights to repatria-
tion, self-determination and
the establishment of an in-
dependent Palestinian state
under the PLO's leadership."
Once more, repatriation —
return to Israel inside the
green for the Palestinian
Arabs in diaspora comes first.
Return. Diaspora. Cove-
nant. They should sound
familiar to Jews. To stage a
successful revolution — or
better, counter-revolution
against a once-popular oppo-

nent — one must first ap-
propriate his vocabulary. His
land will follow.
Most of the Palestinian
Arab diaspora and its refugee
minority did not hail original-
ly from the West Bank and
Gaza, but from inside Israel
proper, from many places now
populated by Jews. They, and
other Arabs, reaffirm their
right of return too often for it
to be merely a dust-covered
provision of the PLO "cove-
nant." Jordanian Prime
Minister Zai al-Rifai (himself
a Palestinian Arab but hard-
ly a PLO booster) made that
clear during Secretary of
State George Shultz's recent
Middle East shuttle.
"There is more to the
Palestinian cause than the oc-
cupation of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip," he told a
press conference. "The Pal-
estinian people had rights
before 1967, including the
right of return. We have
reminded the United States
that a great number of
Palestinians (from pre-1948
Palestine) form the biggest
refugee camps now in the
West Bank and Gaza."
As for the Covenant itself,
Article 26 states: "The
Palestine Liberation Organ-
ization...is responsible for the
movement of the Palestinian
Arab people in it sstruggle to
restore its homeland, liberate
it, return to it (emphasis
added), and exercise the right
of self-determination on it..."
First repatriation,, then a
state.
However, the PLO charter
in its present form is 20 years
old. Some in both the United
States and Israel argue that
a pragmatic focus on what
may be attainable — a West
Bank and Gaza state — has
pushed the right-of-return
aside.
But former head of Israeli
military intelligence Brig.
Gen. Shlomo Gazit (Res.) sees
a continuing link between
"territory-for peace" and the
"right-of-return?' Gazit, now
president of Ben-Gurion Un-
viersity, asserted recently
that land for peace was "a bad
way of presenting our case.
What we mean is that we are
prepared to give up territory
for peace and security?'
lb accomplish that, Israel
has to demand something
equally painful of the other
side. "What must we ask of
them? That they have to give
up the Arab claim for the
right of return. There is no
sense to make peace and yet
have 1.5 million Palestinian

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