Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries are not refugees because they left their homes voluntarily and under pressure from Zionist groups and the Jewish Agency, Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said over the weekend.

In an article published in a number of Arab media outlets, Ashrawi, who is also an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that the "claim that Jews who emigrated to Israel, which is supposed to be their homeland, are 'refugees' who were uprooted from their homelands…is a form of deception and delusion"

She explained: "If Israel is their homeland, then they are not 'refugees'; they are emigrants who returned either voluntarily or due to a political decision."

Ashrawi's comments came in response to Israeli efforts to hold a summit on the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries next month.

The Foreign Ministry - together with the World Jewish Congress and the Pensioners Affairs Ministry - is stepping up its campaign to bring the issue of Jewish refugees to public and diplomatic attention.

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