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      Jordanian Columnist to PA: 'Right of Return' Unrealistic

      A Jordanian article politely advises the Palestinian Authority to abandon its demand for the "right of return" in final status talks with Israel.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 5/11/2011, 1:55 PM / Last Update: 5/11/2011, 2:17 PM

      Flash 90

      A Jordanian news columnist has politely advised the Palestinian Authority to abandon its demand for the “right of return” for Arabs who fled pre-state Israel during the 1948 War of Independence.

      The PA has insisted that former Arab residents from more than half a century ago and their descendants, who today number more than five million, all be allowed to “return” to Israel as one of the conditions of a final status agreement.

      But Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek, former board chairman of the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai, has written an opinion piece warning the PA that to insist on such a condition is unrealistic.

      Al-Fanek urged PA officials in an article  published in the Al-Rai to accept whatever peace plan that might be proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama, even though it is likely it will mean that “refugees” will be told to “return” to the nascent PA state, rather than to Israel.

      “The realistic commentator is entitled to say that the Palestinian Authority's rejection of Obama's plan... means that the Palestinians will get neither a state nor the [right of] return – because the rejection of this paradigm does not mean that the Palestinians will [obtain the right to] return to [the lands] that have become Israel ,” Al-Fanek wrote.

      “It seems that the Palestinian Authority has hope, however small, that the refugees' right to return to Israel will [actually] be realized. But a realistic analysis must recognize that the [refugees'] return is impossible under the framework of a peaceful resolution, since Israel has no intention of [relinquishing its identity] as a Jewish state...

      “As for the distant future, as time goes on, the return [of the refugees] will be less and less feasible, even if it becomes a formal possibility. Even now, no Palestinian in the diaspora under the age of 70 is [actually] familiar with Palestine. Moreover, most of the Palestinian villages to which [the refugees] demand to return no longer exist, and most of the Palestinians living in the diaspora have received foreign citizenship and settled in their countries of residence.

      “We still remember how dozens of senior Palestinian officials for whom Yasser Arafat obtained the right of return, and for whom a farewell [ceremony] was held at the [Allenby] Bridge, came back to Amman within two weeks!”