Rallies highlight ‘inalienable right to return’

By Mohammad Ben Hussein

AMMAN – Scores of activists joined residents of Baqaa refugee camp in commemorating the 44th anniversary of the June 1967 war, dubbed Naksa, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Participants in the rally chanted slogans against any possible deals that overlook their right to return to their homeland.

Organized by the Muslim Brotherhood movement, the rally kicked off in the central part of the camp, the largest in the country.

As protesters marched on the roads of the camp, they chanted pro-resistance slogans and denounced any attempts to settle them permanently in host countries.

“This is a day to remember the loss of Palestine, and to stress on our right to return,” said Ali Asmar, an activist from the Palestinian refugee camp.

Asmar called on the government to shoulder its responsibility of “protecting the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland.”

“We are being hosted by Jordan as refugees. Jordanian authorities have the responsibility to raise our case since we have become Jordanian citizens,” he said, expressing fear that a future agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel could lead to settling most refugees in host countries.

According to Mohammad Aqel, head of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) branch in Baqaa, the Palestinian Authority has no right to offer any compromise on the right of refugees to decide their destiny.

“People have been leading a difficult life for decades on hopes of returning to their homeland. They have suffered, sacrificed their blood and life for this cause. It is no one’s right to make a decision on their behalf,” he told The Jordan Times on the sideline of the protest.

Several groups in Jordan have joined others across the Arab region to voice concern over the future of refugees scattered in the Middle East.

Jordan hosts the highest number of Palestinian refugees who live in 13 refugee camps as well as in main cities, and the majority of them are Jordanian citizens.

Some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes after Israel was created on their land in 1948. About 4.5 million refugees and their descendants now live in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank.

Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai desert were also occupied during the six-day 1967 war.

The Golan Heights and the West Bank remain under Israeli occupation 44 years later.

Also yesterday, dozens of people reportedly rallied at the village of Karamah in the Jordan Valley, which is near the borders with the occupied Palestinian territories, to commemorate the Naksa.

Participants, who carried Jordanian and Palestinian flags, stressed their right to return to Palestine, rejecting what they called the conspiracy of a substitute homeland, referring to a campaign by Israeli extremist politicians who look at Jordan as the future state of Palestinians.

In a related development, opposition parties in Jordan on Sunday called on the UN to respect the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

In a memorandum handed to the UN office in Amman on the occasion of the Naksa, the parties said Israel has violated all international resolutions and committed war crimes against Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, demanding holding Israeli war “criminals” accountable for the crimes against Palestinians, Petra said.

The opposition parties also called for the immediate release of Jordanian, Palestinian and Arab prisoners of war in Israeli jails.

6 June 2011

Source: The Jordan Times.
Link: http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=38197.

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