Sha’ath: Palestinian Right of Return Guaranteed by ‘Roadmap’
Palestine Media Center- (PMC) [Official arm of the PA]
The right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homes in Israel or the
territories the Jewish state occupied in 1967 was guaranteed under the
US-sponsored “roadmap” for peace, the Palestine National Authority (PNA)
Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Friday.
"No condition has been set for a return (only) to an independent Palestinian
state. The right of return is no longer an illusion. It is an integral part
of the Arab peace initiative, which is one of the reference points in the
roadmap,” Shaath said, speaking at a hotel in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
"I want to be clear: this right includes returning to an independent state
and to Palestinian cities in the Jewish state. Whether a person returns to
Haifa (Israel) or to Nablus (West Bank), their return is guaranteed,” he
confirmed, quoted by AFP.
The minister was referring to the Saudi initiative adopted by Arab League
summit meeting in Beirut summit in March 2002.
It calls on Israel to withdraw completely from the lands it occupied in the
1967 war in return for normal ties with the Arab world, and says there
should be a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee problem.
Shaath hailed the “roadmap,” which drafted and adopted by the EU, the US,
the UN and Russia, as the "best peace plan for the Palestinians ever struck
with Israel since the 1967 war.”
The “roadmap,” which foresees the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005,
calls in its last phase for "an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution”
to the refugee issue in final status negotiations between Israelis and
"We see no other solution for our people, especially those in Lebanon, than
to return to their homeland and this return is guaranteed,” said Shaath.
Lebanon is home to more than 380,000 refugees, according to UN figures. Most
of them are originally from what is now northern Israel and live in
miserable conditions in camps around the country.
The Zionist paramilitary gangs, later incorporated in Israel’s military
forces, forced out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948. Their fate
has been one of the main sticking points in peace talks.
Israel has never recognized UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948,
which says the Palestinians have the right to return to their former homes
or be compensated for their losses.
Shaath, who arrived in Beirut late Tuesday, held talks the next day with
Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.