Abbas Asked Israel To Let In Palestinians Fleeing Syria

Israel Demanded They Renounce Right of Return

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published January 25, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tried to get Israel to let 150,000 Palestinians fleeing war in Syria resettle in the West Bank, but dropped the request after the Jewish state demanded they first give up their right of return, he said.

Syria is home to around 500,000 Palestinian refugees, some of whom have been fleeing the country because of civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and fighters seeking to topple his government.

Israel has said it has no plans to allow them to enter the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.

“I asked the Secretary General of the United Nations, I told him to ask our neighbours to let us be bring them to Palestine. Four days later the surprise answer came to me, (the Israelis) agree,” Abbas told Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen television in an interview broadcast on Friday.

“They agree on one condition…that each one of the refugees renounce their right of return. We said, forget it,” Abbas said.

Around 5 million Palestinian refugees live in U.N.-run camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, after they or their ancestors fled or were forced from homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war of Israel’s founding.

Palestinians believe U.N. General Assembly resolutions enshrine a right for these refugees to return to their original lands, an idea consistently rejected by Israel.

Their fate has been one of the thorniest sticking points throughout the decades of violence and diplomacy between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Twenty thousand Palestinian refugees have fled from Syria into neighbouring Lebanon, joining 400,000 Palestinians living in hard-scrabble ghettos in that small nation.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied it would let Palestinians from Syria into the West Bank. Israeli government representatives told Reuters they had no information on such talks.

The head of the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees told Reuters he had not been informed of any deal between Israel and the Palestinians on a repatriation.

“It seems to be, frankly speaking, an unrealistic option from the practical point of view, to move a large number of people through Jordan and then the occupied territory, or Egypt,” said Filippo Grandi, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Abbas, who himself fled his original hometown in Northern Israel, courted domestic controversy last year when he told an Israeli news channel that he had no desire to return.

Palestinian rivals in the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza, who reject peace talks with Israel that Abbas has long pursued, said the president’s comments undermined efforts to resettle lost land. (Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut; Editing by Peter Graff)


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.