Will Palestinian Statehood Solve the Refugee Problem?

[Washington Times] Zalman Shoval - We now have a radical, Jihadist "government" in Gaza supported by Iran, whose declared aim is to wipe out Israel, while on the West Bank there is what can only be described as a make-believe government under the aegis of Mahmoud Abbas. It surely hasn't escaped President Bush that Abbas, on whom he is now placing all his bets, never met the standards set forth in Bush's June 24, 2002, Rose Garden speech - that American support for Palestinian statehood would require the Palestinians to "embrace democracy, confront corruption, engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure." None of this has happened; on the contrary, Abbas refrained from disarming Hamas when he still could have done it. The theory that creating a Palestinian state could resolve the refugee problem was never a sound one. A physically and economically "challenged" mini-state could not absorb more than 10-15% of the refugee population anyway; the only practical way to address the problem would be by their genuine integration into the countries in which they have resided for three generations. But the Arab world, including the Palestinian leadership, has always opposed this in order to keep the refugee problem alive and put pressure on Israel. Thus the creation of such a Palestinian state wouldn't end the clamor for the so-called "right of return" of the refugees to Israel, but would actually intensify it.

2007-08-03 01:00:00

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