'Refugees' fate unclear in Palestine bid'
A PRC senior researcher says that several legal issues including the status of Palestinian refugees have remained unclear as Palestinian Authority (PA) announced plans to apply for Palestine membership in the United Nations.
Washington has repeatedly threatened to veto the bid by the PA to seek statehood for Palestine at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).The United States cannot block the UN General Assembly vote for the change of Palestine's status in the world body from entity to state, but it can veto it later at the Security Council.Press TV has conduccted an interview with Nasim Ahmed, a senior researcher to futher talks over the issue. Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.Press TV: Let us talk a little bit about the effect of the UN vote that's coming forward, for a Palestine state that is a member of the United Nations .Nasim Ahmed: Next week at the 23rd, that's when Mahmoud Abbas will actually officially request the United Nation, as to what he will request is not very clear, whether it will be a full membership or recognition for a Palestinian state.There are lots of issues surrounding that, especially with the Palestinian refugees coming into stake, in terms of their recognition within the UN. Because at the moment the PLO represents the Palestinians, and the calls for statehood or the recognition for statehood, might jeopardize or weaken their rights.There are also various merits which have been attributed to this recognition. But if you look at the strategic development within the region, it might if anything weaken the Palestinians even more and strengthen the Israeli position.Press TV: Can you just explain how many Palestinians actually are forced into exile currently and what your research at the Palestine Return Center has shown of how many want to return? And if the Palestinians were to return, how would that take place, do you have an image of that at the Palestine Return Center?Nasim Ahmed: Well the crucial issue is to first recognize, what in principle from an international and legal point of view, what is the rights of the 7.1 million Palestinian refugees.So globally from the 11 million Palestinians, there are 7.1 Palestinian refugees. The majority of them, so you have 2.5 million within West Bank and 1.5 in Gaza. And the rest are in diaspora. Within Jordan there are half a million, within Syria another are half a million, within Lebanon and of course you have another hundreds of thousands around the world.This UN vote, what it would actually do is it will weaken their position. Because at the moment the PLO is what represents the Palestinians in diaspora, or the global Palestinian population.So if the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state, or the PA as the representative of the Palestinians. The PA has no mandate to actually represent the Palestinians in diaspora. All it has is a mandate to actually represent the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.Press TV: Is there a body that represents Palestinians in diaspora legally and politically?Nasim Ahmed: It's recognized. The UN recognizes PLO as the rightful representative of the Palestinian people. And the Palestinian people are the primary agent of the Palestinian question. It's not the state it's the Palestinian people.Press TV: So the right of return will be weakened in your opinion by this statehood bid at the UN?Nasim Ahmed: It will be because there will be no representative body for the Palestinians in diaspora within the UN, arguing for their rights. That's why it will be weakened really.Press TV: Nasim, just finally then. It's hard to imagine much jubilation in the minds of people living in the West Bank and Gaza, whatever happens at the UN?Nasim Ahmed: I just want to say, the issue of Palestine as Edward said is not about flags and national anthems and nationalism. It's something more fundamental, it's about the rights of millions of human beings.And calling for a state when there is still occupation, there is still the illegal wall. There are ongoing settlements and demolition of homes.When these are facts on the ground, and to simply try and whitewash all this and try and go for an international strategic move, doesn't really change the game much. Israel is still pulling all the tricks here. And it will not change anything.There is a faction within the Palestinians who think this will actually change the game. But it will not actually do much for the Palestinians in general.PM/JR
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