Daily Israel Report

PA Hopes Syrian 'Red Herring' Discredits Netanyahu at Polls

On the eve of Israel's national elections, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attempts to discredit Likud PM Netanyahu and affect his popularity.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/21/2013, 3:41 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Reuters

On the eve of Israel’s national elections, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is doing his best to discredit Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, claiming the Netanyahu government approved entry of 150,000 Syrian refugees into Judea and Samaria.

But the Prime Minister’s Office has denied the claim, saying clearly that the statement made by Abbas during an interview on an Arabic-language news channel on Monday was “false and unfounded.”

Abbas claimed the PA had filed a request with Israel to allow the thousands of Syrian refugees who had once lived in Israel and fled during prior wars – and their generations of descendants – to enter the Palestinian Authority on humanitarian grounds.

But the truth is more complicated than that.

Israel had already allegedly offered to allow a number of Syrian refugees to enter PA-controlled territories in Judea and Samaria on humanitarian grounds several weeks ago – on condition they formally forego their so-called “right of return,” according to a report quoting Abbas, published in Egyptian media.  At the time, Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment on the report, neither confirming nor denying it.

Abbas, who said at the time that he rejected the conditions set by the Israeli government, instead turned to the United Nations and appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in hopes he could force Israel to accept the tens of thousands of refugees to flood across her borders. The United Nations has, however, no such power. Ban reportedly simply reiterated Netanyahu's condition for agreement -- which Abbas rejected.

Jordan has absorbed more than 200,000 Syrian refugees, including thousands who fled Israel in prior years and who were never allowed to integrate into Syrian society. Amman has now begun to turn away the so-called “Palestinian” refugees who are continuing to flood across its borders. Likewise Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

In Jordan, Lebanon and in every other Arab nation to which the refugees fled during Israel’s war of independence, and 1967 Six Day War, the refugees were encouraged by the invading Arab nations to flee. They were seduced by promises they would soon own the land and homes of their Jewish neighbors whom the “conquering Arab heroes” would soon “drive into the sea.”

When the wars ended in defeat and instead the refugees were left homeless in their new lands, their Arab patrons held them apart for generations in makeshift refugee camps, refusing to allow them the dignity of becoming citizens in their new “adopted” countries as other refugees have done around the world – hence the appellation “Palestinians,” rather than simply the nationalities where their generations have since been raised for more than half a century.