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Palestinian refugees 224.(Photo by: AP)
Lebanon Palestinians to march on border
Khaled Abu Toameh
05/01/2008
PA says it will temporarily boycott leaders who come to participate in Independence Day celebrations.
More than 100,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are expected to march toward the border with Israel on May 14 in the context of the Palestinian Authority's plan to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, PA officials told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. The PA leadership has, meanwhile, announced that it would boycott any world leader who arrived in Israel to participate in the anniversary celebrations. The officials said the boycott would be a temporary action, adding that the Palestinians would not receive the guests in the Palestinian territories during their visits to Israel. The PA ambassador to Beirut, Zaki Abbas, has been working in the past few weeks to recruit refugees from various refugee camps throughout Lebanon for the march. Fatah's top representative in Lebanon, Sultan Abu Aynain, has also been instrumental in organizing the event, the Post has learned. The two have been coordinating their efforts with PA Deputy Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Ziad Abu Ein, who has drawn up a plan calling on Palestinian refugees to "invade" Israel by land, air and sea in protest against Israel's anniversary celebrations. The plan states that the Palestinians have decided to implement United Nations Resolution 194 regarding the Palestinian refugees. Article 11 of the resolution, which was passed in December 1948, says that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest predictable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return." Entitled "The Initiative of Return and Coexistence," the plan urges all Israelis to "welcome the Palestinians who will be returning to live together with them in the land of peace." A committee established by the organizers to prepare for the event met at the Al-Bireh Municipality offices this week to discuss ways of rallying support. Abu Ein told participants that more than 100,000 refugees from Lebanon were expected to take part in the march toward Israel's northern border. He added that refugees from the West Bank and Gaza Strip would also participate in the events by staging marches toward Israeli checkpoints and border crossings. At the meeting in Al-Bireh, the organizers strongly condemned world leaders and dignitaries who were planning to participate in the Israeli celebrations. "This is the day when the Palestinians were uprooted from their lands," they added. "It would have been better if these leaders visited the refugee camps which are the victims of Israel's so-called independence." The plan calls on the refugees to return to Israel with suitcases and tents so that they can settle down in their former villages. The refuges are requested to carry UN flags upon their return and to be equipped with their UNRWA-issued ID cards. The plan asks Arab countries hosting the refugees to facilitate their return by opening their borders. The plan specifically refers to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Palestinian refugees living in the US, EU, Canada and Latin America have been requested to use their foreign passports to fly to Ben- Gurion Airport, while dozens of ships carrying refugees will converge on Israeli ports.
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