Fright of Return: 3 Reasons Why the Palestinians Aren’t Likely to Make Successful Transition to Statehood

The fright of return strikes as the PLO ambassador’s  ambassador to Lebanon says refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state.

Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah told the Daily Star:

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But . . . they are not automatically citizens.”

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

. . .

“When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

We now have three reasons why the Palestinians aren’t likely to make a successful transition to statehood:

  1. Refugees have expressed reticence towards moving to the West Bank, and I haven’t seen any refugee camps in Gaza being emptied out by Hamas — a phenomenon I refer to as the fright of return.
  2. As pointed out in Guy Goodwin-Gill’s legal opinion that sent shock waves through the Palestinian world, unilateral statehood could  boomerang on the refugees and the PLO’s  ability to represent them.
  3. But as Ambassador Abdullah is tacitly saying, the refugees are more “useful” in their squalid camps anyway.

(Photo via Flickr/gnuckx)

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