Palestinian RefugeesMonthly MemoThis monthly bulletin provides an update on the condition of Palestinian refugees around the world over the past month. It covers stories from the Occupied Territories, UNRWA, host countries, Palestinians in diasporas as well as political commentary on the refugee issue.
INTRODUCTIONFor the past 62 years, millions of Palestinians have been living as refugees in areas of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) and in surrounding host countries - mostly in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has described their plight as “by far the most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world today”While there is much focus on the Israeli Palestinian conflict on a political level there is very little, if any, mention of the refugees and internally displaced Palestinians who comprise three quarters of the global Palestinian population. There is also very little attention given to the routine demolition and expulsion which continue to swell the number of refugees. The 7.1 Million Palestinian refugees face many difficult challenges which require greater attention from the international community.This bulletin provides an update on the condition of Palestinian refugees around the world over the past month. It covers stories from the Occupied Territories, internally displaced Palestinians in Israel, UNRWA, host countries, Palestinians in the Diaspora and commentaries relating to the refugees.HEADLINES•UNRWA New York Director, Andrew Whitley, Mouths Israeli Propaganda, Dismissing the Palestinian Right of Return. UNRWA distanced itself from the irresponsible comments stating “These statements in no way reflect the policies or positions of the Agency and are the personal views of Mr Whitley”.•More Evictions in East Jerusalem as the Qiresh family are expelled from their homes.•International Alliance of Inhabitants launch Zero Evictions for Palestinians Now•BEIRUT: The campaign to rebuild the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp has not received any donations in almost six months, and there is no money to pay rent subsidies in 2011 for the camp’s displaced residents.1 NEW EVICTIONSPalestinians are continually evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem. Since its occupation in 1967 Israel has boosted its Jewish population to the great detriment of Palestinians. It is estimated that 180,000 or more Palestinians have been evicted from their homes. 1.1-Qiresh Family Eviction: 1948 Ethnic Cleansing Continues The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians continues to this day. In 1948 it went unobserved by most of the world media. Today, it continues despite of the presence of world media. Add to this the farcical indifference of the world community. If this is acceptable today, then we are bystanders. Read More:http://palestinefreevoice.blogspot.com/2010/10/qiresh-family-eviction-1948-ethnic.html1.2-International Alliance of Inhabitants launch Zero Evictions for Palestinians NowWe, inhabitants’ associations, international networks, voluntary groups, NGOs, public agencies, citizens of the world, express our indignation at and denounce Israel’s continual policies of eviction and demolition carried out against the Palestinian people, both Palestinians ’48 (citizens of Israel) and Palestinians ’67 (in the Occupied Palestinian Territories). These demolitions and evictions clearly violate international law. Read more:http://www.habitants.org/zero_evictions_campaign/zero_evictions_for_palestinians_now 1.3-Latest news from East JerusalemThe Hanoun and Al Ghawi families, who had lived in the Karm Al Ja'ouni area of Sheikh Jarrah since 1956 in homes provided to them by UNRWA, were forcibly evicted and their homes handed over to a settler organization by Israeli authorities on 2 August 2009.Read More:http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/AZHU-7X74MD?OpenDocument1.4-Palestinians homeless again after eviction - 29 Oct 09Watch:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-Rcp3vWNUs22 REFUGEES IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES Refugees are the most vulnerable within the occupied territory. Three quarters of Gaza’s1.7 million, who are still under siege, are refugees, and in the West Bank a quarter of its population are refugees 2.1- UN Report: Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 20 - 26 October 2010This week, 29 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in the oPt; another six injured by settlers in the West Bank; three Palestinians killed and three others injured in tunnel related incidents and 26 injured in an explosion in Gaza. Also in the West Bank, settler violence continues unabated during olive harvest. Stop-work and eviction orders continue. In the Gaza Strip, limited construction materials for UN projects continue to enter. Fuel shortages continue; power cuts increase to 16 hours per day.Read More: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_of_civilians_2010_10_29_english.pdf
3-UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency)UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 4.7 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight.UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states.3.1- UNRWA chief: Gaza must not be MarginalizedRAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The chief of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday that Gaza must not beleft "in the margins." Addressing a conference at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, the UNRWA Commissioner-General warned that, following prolonged and repeated crises in Gaza "consciously or not, many embrace the self-fulfilling rhetoric that seeks to justify its exclusion as a place beyond salvation." Read More: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=319856 3.2-UNRWA Distances Itself from the Statement of its Ney York DirectorUNRWA unequivocally distances itself from the statements made by the Director of its office in New York, Andrew Whitley, at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington on 22 October 2010. These statements in no way reflect the policies or positions of the Agency and are the personal views of Mr Whitley.Read More:http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=8313.3- UK Rewards UNRWAs Good Performance With New DonationThe United Kingdom has donated USD 12.6 million (GBP 8 million) to UNRWA's main programmes, which provide health, education, relief and social services to Palestine refugees living in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.Read More:http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=8343.4- From Relief and Works to Human Development: UNRWA and the Palestinian Refugees after 60 yearsKeynote address by Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-GeneralRead More: http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=8224 LEBANONLebanon's estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in appalling social and economic conditions - most of them in crowded camps that lack essential infrastructure. In 2001, Parliament passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property, a right they had for decades. Lebanese law also restricts their ability to work in many areas. In 2005, Lebanon eliminated a ban on Palestinians holding most clerical and technical positions, provided they obtain a temporary work permit from the Labour Ministry, but more than 20 high-level professions remain off-limits to Palestinians.4.1-Sands of Sorrow The Plight of Palestinian RefugeesThis film is absolutely extraordinary. It shows the refugee camps and the cities in Palestine and Jordan where refugees had fled, including cave dwellings, convents and tents to house them. Yes. Already in 1950, it was referred to as a "seemingly endless plight". And sixty long years have gone by.Watch Film:http://palestinethinktank.com/2010/10/07/sands-of-sorrow-1950-the-plight-of-the-palestinian-refugees/4.2-Lebanon’s Laws pay only lip service to Palestinians plight Unemployed at 21, Ahmad al-Issawi doesn't even earn the average $2.03 a day taken home by most Palestinian refugee workers living in Lebanon.Read More:http://www.smh.com.au/world/lebanons-laws-pay-only-lip-service-to-palestinians-plight-20101022-16xsq.html4.3-Severe Funding Crises in Nahar al Bared CampBEIRUT: The campaign to rebuild the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp has not received any donations in almost six months, and there is no money to pay rent subsidies in 2011 for the camp’s displaced residents.Read More:http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=120699#axzz142BCCI7h4.4-Lebanon's Palestinian Civil Rights Campaign moves into the Christian Heartland(SHATILLA REFUGEE CAMP, Beirut) - Even though not even one work permit has been issued to one Palestinian in Lebanon since the August 17, 2010 “right to work” law passed in Parliament and even though Palestinians are still forbidden from owning a home, the cause of Palestine Civil Rights in Lebanon endures.Read More:http://www.salem-news.com/articles/october242010/palestine-rights-fl.php 5. INTERNATIONAL NEWS5.1-Qatar lauded in US for helping Gaza kidsWashington, DC: The American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) on Friday paid tribute to Qatar for its generous donation in aid of Gaza’s child refugees. This year marks the second year in a row that Qatar has come to the aid of Palestinian refugees through ANERA.Read More:http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/127914-qatar-lauded-in-us-for-helping-gaza-kids.html5.2-The Middle East: refugees and internally displaced persons by countryRead More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2010/oct/05/middle-east-refugees-by-country
5.3-UN launches innovative micro-site for Palestine refugeesJerusalem, 22 October, 2010: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, is launching a new multimedia micro-site to highlight the plight of some five million registered Palestine refugees. The campaign, called “Peace Starts Here”, is being launched simultaneously in Jerusalem and Brussels, and marks United Nations Day and EU-UN Partnership Day. Read More:http://www.peacestartshere.org/
6. COMMENTARY and ANALYSIS
The Commentaries are taken from blogs and articles. They are all selected for their significance to the moral legal and political debate on the plight of refugees. PRC does not necessarily agree with all the views and opinions held by the authors.6.1- Remembering the right of returnIsrael may be urging Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to continue faltering peace talks despite refusing to renew a freeze on illegal settlement building, but in the tinderbox Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon life is defined by an issue neither side has ever publically expressed any willingness to compromise over: The right of Palestinian refugees to return home."No-one can negotiate on our right to return to Palestine. There is only one country called Palestine and we will never return there except by resistance to Israel," says Abu Yousef, a fighter with the Palestinian faction Ansar Allah.Read More: http://english.aljazeera.net/photo_galleries/middleeast/201092792844223326.html
6.2- Israel’s Arab Citizens Are Not a Negotiating ChipBenjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has insisted from the launch of the current peace talks that the Palestinians set no preconditions, while making his own precondition the centerpiece of negotiations. Netanyahu has said talks are futile unless the Palestinians and their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, first recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “I recognized the Palestinians’ right to self-definition, so they must do the same for the Jewish people,” he told American Jewish leaders recently.Read More: http://original.antiwar.com/cook/2010/10/03/israels-arab-citizens-are-not-a-negotiating-chip/
6.3 Daniel Levy Israel’s ProblemThe blog Mere Rhetoric recently reported that Daniel Levy, one of the founders of the left wing, anti-Israel lobby J Street, made remarks that reveal his radical approach to Israel. (I followed up on this report here.) “Levy quite explicitly revealed that he thinks that Israel’s creation was ‘an act that was wrong,’” Mere Rhetoric said. “For good measure he added that ‘there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice’ in Israel’s founding.”Read More:http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/daniel-levys-israel-problem_508403.html6.3- Absurd demandIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to link the halt of the Israeli settlement programme with the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is absurd.Read More:http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=30989