The Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Saturday separately rejected US President Barack Obama’s reported plan for peace in the Middle East, because it calls on Palestinians to give up the right of return of refugees to their original homes in Israel.
According to an article published in The New York Times last week, the US Administration has been working on a new peace initiative that revolves around a few key principles: A Palestinian state without the right of return, Jerusalem as the capital of two states and an emphasis on Israel’s security needs.
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“The PA said that it would reject any peace initiative that requires Palestinians to relinquish the right of return.
Nabil Sha’ath, member of the PA negotiating team, said that the right of return was a basic right, which the Palestinians couldn’t give up.
“We will reject any American peace plan that calls on us to give up one of our basic rights – the right of return for refugees,” Sha’ath, a former PA foreign minister who played a major role in the signing of the Oslo Accords, said.
Sha’ath noted that the Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the PLO, call for holding discussions on major issues like Jerusalem, refugees, borders and security.
“How can Washington plan for such a solution?” he asked, referring to the report about Obama’s new peace initiative. “There are no contacts between Washington and the PA on this issue.”
Sha’ath claimed that members of the Quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – were recently forced to postpone their meeting to discuss the status of the Middle East peace talks because Washington was opposed to a pro- Palestinian statement that they were planning to issue.
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip described the Obama initiative as an “alarm bell that jeopardizes the right of return.”
Calling on the Arab and Islamic people to support the Palestinians’ right of return, Hamas said it was strongly opposed to the new initiative.
“The right of return is a legitimate and sacred right and no one could give it up,” Hamas stressed.