PLO blocks West Bank Arabs leaving for a better life

July 24, 2019 by David Singer
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Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – Saeb Erekat – has told a political symposium in Jericho that West Bank Arabs would not be allowed to voluntarily leave – virtually holding them captives against their will.

Erekat stated:

“We will not allow resettlement or formation of refugee committees for that aim, while holding on to the settlement of their cause in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions.”

Michael Lynk – the United Nations Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967”– had issued a statement on 28 June endorsing the right to freedom of movement – enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Erekat’s outrageous threat was not responding to Lynk’s comments – but to leaked reports claiming the United States might be seeking the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in at least five Arab neighbouring countries.

If confirmed – West Bank Arabs could well be prepared to voluntarily leave the West Bank in large numbers – especially if offered the opportunity to legally enter other Arab countries and receive financial assistance for rehousing and resettlement there.

President Trump has a massive US$28.7 billion possibly available to aid West Bank Arabs who want to emigrate – being the money he wanted to plough into revitalising the West Bank and Gaza– which both the PLO and Hamas unbelievably rejected.

Given the state of relationships between Israel, the PLO and Hamas – spending that money earmarked for projects within the West Bank and Gaza was a highly questionable exercise that could have seen the destruction of such projects in future conflicts between these three long-time enemies.

Helping those desperate to emigrate who have suffered the perverse decisions of the PLO during the last 25 years is a much more targeted use of the money – guaranteeing a far better outcome for West Bank Arabs and their families.

The 2019 Human Rights Watch Reportevidences the toxic nature of the West Bank:

  • the PLO arrested activists who criticized their leaders, security forces, or policies and mistreated and tortured some in their custody.
  • The Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine (ICHR), a statutory commission charged with monitoring human rights compliance by the Palestinian authorities, received 205 complaints of torture and ill-treatment by West Bank security forces as of 31 October 2018.
  • In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces fatally shot 27 Palestinians and wounded at least 5,444,
  • attacks by Israeli settlers injured 61 Palestinians and damaged property in 147 incidents.
  • Palestinians killed 10 Israelis, including six civilians, and wounded at least 58 in the same period in the West Bank.

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords – 95% of the West Bank Arab population has been under total PLO administrative control.

Real growth declined to around 2 percent in 2018 – lower than its average in previous years. The 2018 unemployment rate was 17.6 percent.  Youth unemployment between ages 15-24 is 29.8 percent. 

The World Bank has concluded that lack of progress towards peace and reconciliation creates an unsustainable economic situation. The PLO has refused to negotiate with Israel since April 2014 and has failed to call elections since 2007.

The only media outlet to report Erekat’s incendiary statement was the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The remaining media’s failure to report – and the UN Special Rapporteur’s failure to condemn -Erekat’s controversial announcement – are despicable.

Hopefully, President Trump will pressure the PLO to reverse its position and offer a window of opportunity for those to leave who wish to do so.

Offering West Bank Arabs a lifeline to a better future elsewhere is long overdue.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and foundation member of the International Analysts Network 

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog


One Response to “PLO blocks West Bank Arabs leaving for a better life”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    The Trump Plan will put an end to some of the corrupt diversion of aid money to Swiss bank accounts. (Though anti-Jewish Europe will probably continue to throw taxpayer Euros down the sewer.)
    No wonder Erekat and his buddies oppose the plan.

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