Israel: October 26, 1999

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Following  attacks by Islamic Jihad for Palestine guerillas in southern Lebanon, Israeli artillery fired on suspected enemy positions in southern Lebanon. Ten Palestinians were injured, when hundreds of Palestinians rioted in Bethlehem because of the Israeli army killing a Palestinian under dubious circumstances. The US FBI is helping Israeli police track down militant Christian sects who are trying to get into Israeli in order to hasten the end of the world they believe will arrive on January 1st, 2000.

October 26; Palestinians continue to demand the "right of return" to farms and villages inside Israel that their fathers and grandfathers fled in 1948. Palestinian return advocates point out the following:
1. UN Resolution 194 provides for all Palestinians who lived in Palestine at the start of the 1948 hostilities (or their heirs) to return to the original property for which they held legally-drafted deeds.
2. International law is always evolving, and recent movements (e.g., Kosovo) support the legal right for refugees to return and reject anything that amounts to "ethnic cleansing".
3. Some 78% of the Jewish population of Israel lives on only 15% of the land. The rest of the land is held by 154,000 rural Jews who live in small farming villages. This means that relatively few Jews would have to be relocated to give almost all of the Palestinian refugees their land back.
4. The outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is irrelevant to the return issue, and indeed must adapt to it. Even if the result of the peace process was to place a given piece of land under Israeli sovereignty, the legitimate deeded landholders (i.e., the Palestinians) have a right to live there under some form of international supervision to guarantee their human and property rights.
5. Anything involving international refugee rights must have the Palestinians at its core or it cannot be considered legitimate. If the Kosovo refugees have a right to go home while the Palestinians do not, then the legitimacy of the Kosovar claims is dubious at best.
6. Israeli claims that the deeded Palestinian land inside Israel was "traded" for property owned by Middle Eastern Jews forced to fleet Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and other Arab countries during 1948-52 are not legitimate. The Jews who fled the Arab countries have shown no interest and claimed no right to "go home", any "trade" of property was not approved by one of the two parties involved in it, and the Jews for the most part were urban dwellers who owned relatively little land while the Palestinians owned farms, orchards, and vineyards, which by definition were considerably larger.--Stephen V Cole

 

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