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May 25, 2012 11:42 am

U.S. Senate Bill Alters Palestinian Refugee Status and “Right of Return”

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U.S. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. Photo: wiki commons.

The U.S. State Department and Jordan are lobbying to block a Senate bill that would bring the number of Palestinian refugees recognized by the United States to 30,000, from the current 5 million.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Mark Kirk, would drastically cut the hundreds of millions of dollars Washington gives to the UN body that oversees Palestinian refugees every year, and could change the landscape for future negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leaders on the issue of “right of return” – one of the most intractable matters facing negotiators on both sides.

“The amendment simply demands basic transparency with regard to who receives U.S. taxpayer assistance,” Senator Kirk said.

The definition of Palestinian refugees used by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees differs from all other refugees in the world, granting refugee status to the descendants of those who were displaced following Israel’s independence in 1948.  Jordan, which has close to 2 million people living in the country that are defined as Palestinian refugees, having allowed for hundreds of millions of dollars to flow into the Heshimite Kingdom, has joined the State Department in opposition to Senator Kirk’s bill.

Along with other Arab nations, Jordan has not granted citizenship to the descendants of those refugees who were displaced in 1948.  Doing so would diminish the idea of a “right of return” for Palestinians, which would send a certain amount of refugees back into Israel following a peace agreement between the Jewish state and Palestinian leaders.  Israeli leaders reject the idea of a “right of return” while Palestinian leaders contend it is a must for any signed deal between the two sides.

“This will have major implications for future negotiations over final status issues with regard to refugees,” a senior Senate aide said.

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  • John Castle

    I’m not a Jew, therefore my comments are more objective, though I come up with nearly the same perspective.

    Everything in regards to Israel is handled differently than any other nation on earth. Not only this particular matter, but the recognition of their own capital city should be dictated by the nation itself, not by outside “experts.”

    Also, under the accords passed during the regime of Jimmy Carter, we are still supporting training in Egypt for the F-16 (or is it the F-15?) based on the Egyptians willingness to make peace. Now Egypt is backing out on the Camp David accords. We are still paying for the training for that aircraft. And on and on it goes.

    Europe is growing in its attacks against Israel, including embargoes against the importation of Israeli products into the EU. No other nation on earth is subject to such embargoes.

    Anti-Semitism is still alive and well and no one wishes to call a spade a spade.

  • Otto Waldmann, Sydney

    That Jordan insists on its own citizens be maintained by another nation is only consistent with the ethics of parasitism, fundamental to palestinian survival. US State Dept. joining in the same egregious practice can only testify for the stark duplicitous stance by the current US Administration in regards to Israel.

  • Jack Bloomberg

    How can one claim any refugee status for Moslems who fled Israel temporarily, and only until Jews were driven into to sea, when those who claim this right will not consider the plight of the Jews who were driven out forcibly and permanently from centuries of citizenship in majority-Moslem countries?
    At some point in time, logic and fairness will surface.

  • its time the apartheid practiced against israel ends. All refugees in the world fall under the UNCHR which allows for 15 years of refugee status and no transfer to progeny. Arab Muslims are the only refugees who can keep their claim forever under UNWRA and transmit it to their progeny. Jewish refugees from Muslim countries somehow do not even count. This is an antisemitic state of affairws which must be shown for what it is: Annihilation of the Jewish State. Let any country with sympathy for the Arab refugees offer them sanctuary on its own territory.

  • Aurora Aronsson

    Finally someone tries to end this total perversion which is nothing but a cash-cow for the Arabs and the best way to perpetuate their conflict against Israel.