Once again, the Los Angeles Times gives a platform to Saree Makdisi, the UCLA comparative literature professor who regularly argues for a “binational state,” meaning the dismantlement of the Jewish state. Today he offers up more of the same, opposing the Palestinian statehood bid, because, as he explains (“Palestinians’ U.N. gamble could backfire“):
The statehood bid probably will be structured along the lines long discussed as the basis for a two-state solution: territory encompassing the 22% of historical Palestine that remained after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948 — namely the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which were subsequently captured by Israel in 1967. But that could change who the United Nations considers to be Palestinian and how their rights may be determined, to their profound detriment.
Today, the Palestine Liberation Organization is recognized by the U.N. and most of its member states as the sole legitimate representative of the entire Palestinian people: those living under occupation, those living in Israel and those living in exile or as refugees, who constitute the single largest group of Palestinians. If its place in the international body is taken by a Palestinian state identifying itself with the occupied territories, Palestinians who do not live in those territories — that is, the majority of Palestinians — could lose their representation at the U.N. and be pushed back into the shadowy silence and invisibility from which they fought to emerge in the 1960s. The 1.5 million Palestinians living as second-class citizens of Israel could be left to fend for themselves against legalized discrimination and political repression directed against them as non-Jews in a state whose Jewish identity the Israelis are demanding ever more insistently that the Palestinians acknowledge.
Moreover, an internationally recognized state limited to the shards of Palestine that remained after 1948 would do nothing for the Palestinian right of return to homes and land in what is today Israel, and could in fact gravely threaten the exercise of that right, which is fundamental to the Palestinian cause.
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.
Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.” He says statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
In laying bare his view that nothing short of eliminating Israel would resolve the conflict, Makdisi throws in gross distortions of U.N. Resolution 194, arguing that it “expressly recognizes their right of return to homes in what is now Israel.” In reality, the resolution states:
refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date. . . [R]epatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees and payment of compensation [should be facilitated].
As noted in CAMERA’s “Backgrounder: The Palestinian Claim to a ‘Right of Return‘”:
Because this only recommends that refugees be permitted to return, it can hardly be ch aracterized as creating a “right.” Moreover, the requirement that returnees first accept living “at peace with their neighbors” meant that Palestinian returnees would have to accept Israel’s right to exist, something that very few of them, even today, seem truly willing to do. Further, it did not even hint at any return rights for descendants of refugees.
It should be noted that . . . .it placed repatriation, resettlement, and payment of compensation on equal footing. This equal footing was also included in other GA resolutions of that era, such as Resolution 393 of December 2, 1950, which stated that:
. . . without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 . . . the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement is essential . . . for the realization of conditions of peace and stability in the area.
Similarly, Resolution 394 of December 14, 1950 called upon:
. . . the Governments concerned to undertake measures to ensure that refugees, whether repatriated or resettled, will be treated without any discrimination either in law or in fact.
And resolution 513 of January 26, 1952, speaks of “reintegration either by repatriation or resettlement.”