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Sderot Mayor Withdraws from Conference in Protest

Kassam rockets continue, but Sapir College holds conference promoting the 'right of return' for Arabs to the Negev.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/14/2011, 2:55 PM / Last Update: 2/14/2011, 4:26 PM

Flash 90

Even as Kassam rockets at the Negev continue, a conference is to be held in Sderot today at which a plan for the resettlement of Arab “refugees” in the Negev will be presented. Sderot’s Mayor David Buskila immediately canceled his participation at the event when he learned of its true content.

A Kassam rocket fired today exploded in an open area in the western Negev; no damage was caused. Five days ago, Hamas terrorists fired two Kassam rockets and four mortar shells at Israel’s western Negev; no one was hurt, but damage was caused.

The conference, entitled the Gaza Conference, is to be held at Sapir College in Sderot – the target of many Kassam rockets over the years; one student was killed by a rocket in the college’s parking lot three years ago this month.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, upon learning the true nature of the Gaza Conference, informed Mayor Buskila, who responded by withdrawing his participation. The Forum has also asked the Acting President of Sapir College, Prof. Uri Segev, to cancel the participation of any organization whose aim it is to harm the State of Israel – most notably, the "Zochrot" organization that is behind the latest plan for the "right of return.”

The Forum also turned to Minister of Education Gideon Saar, requesting that he deduct the costs of the conference from the funds transferred by the Ministry to the academy.

The Forum says that the conference organizers’ clear agenda is an anti-Israel one, and that it disregards Kassam rocket attacks even as it opens the event with this statement: "Israel’s Cast Lead military operation of two years ago and the Marmara incident have escalated the crisis.”

Cast Lead was Israel’s response to years of Gaza rocket attacks against Israel, and the Marmara was a Turkish ship that brought arms and weapons to Gaza last May under the guise of humanitarian aid; Israeli forces boarded the ship, were viciously attacked, and killed nine of their attackers, including five known terrorists.

The conference is also expected to feature a workshop given by representatives of UNWRA – the long-time sponsor of Arab refugee camps in the region – on the topic of "community development.”  A “Zochrot” session is also planned, at which will be discussed "teaching about the 'Nakba' [Catastrophe - the Arab name for Israel’s independence], as a basis for practical planning for Palestinian refugee return.”

A group of nationalist activists from Sderot are reportedly planning a protest outside Sapir College while the conference goes on.