Qatar Hosts Israeli-Palestinian Debate
- Bassem Eid, Dr Yossi Belin, Tim Sebastian, Ali Abunimah and Dr Ilan
Pappe at the Doha Debates yesterday. (Salim Matramkot) Should the
Palestinians give up their right to return to their homeland after
decades of misery and sufferings in refugee camps across the world?
Doha Debates backs Palestinian refugees' right to return
A huge majority of the participants at Qatar Foundation's Doha Debates
yesterday rejected the idea when they overwhelmingly defeated the
motion that suggested Palestinians should give up their full right to
return. Only 18.4 per cent of the participants voted for the motion.
The debate was marked with the presence of two prominent Jewish
personalities from Israel, opposing each other. Equally interesting
was the presence of two Palestinians facing each other on the two
sides of the panel.
Speaking for the motion were Bassem Eid, founder and director of the
Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group and Yossi Belin, currently a
member of the Israeli Knesset and Chairman of the Meretz, Yachad
Party. He has been a leading proponent of the peace process with
Israel's neighbours and especially the Palestinians.
Dr Ilan Pappe, a noted Jewish author and historian and senior lecturer
of political science at the Haifa University spoke against the motion.
He was joined by Ali Abunimah, son of a Palestinian refugee and
co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, an Internet gateway about
Palestine and the Palestine-Israel conflict. Tim Sebastian was the
moderator of the Debates.
Bassem opened the discussion by arguing that the Palestinians living
in miserable situations in refugee camps are fed up with their 60
years long suffering.
They can no more pin their hopes on the corrupt and inefficient
Palestinian political leadership and the only option left for them is
to comprise their right of return to Palestine to get a decent living
'Having spent 40 years in a refugee camp I have lost all hope and
energy to fight. If any Palestinian still maintain that spirit, he is
most welcome to continue fighting," said Bassem.
His views, however, found only a few supporters among the audience,
which included several Palestinian students, who are children of
refugees. One student participant at the question-answer session went
to the extend of questioning his right to call himself a human rights
activist. "What role model you are presenting to the younger
generation of Palestinians?," he asked Bassem.
The view that dominated the debates was that strongly upheld by the
panellists who opposed the motion. Right of return to the homeland is
a fundamental right of any human being which has to be protected at
It is unacceptable to say that Palestinians should give up this right
to gain few concessions from Israel, pointed out Pappe. Abu Nimah said
during his visits to the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and
Jordan, he found that despite their sufferings, majority of the
refugees are still longing to go back to Palestine.
Both the speakers called for a solution to the Palestinian issue in
the same way the Apartheid system in South Africa was tackled. The
racist system in South Africa prolonged for about 300 years but now
the Blacks and the Whites live in harmony in the country."The same
could happen in Palestine, if there is international pressure on
Israel to change its racist policies," said Pappe.
Both the panelists proposed a one-state solution to the Palestinian
issue, where Jews, Muslims and Christians can live in harmony under a
Yossi Bellin said on the practical front, majority of the Jews in
Israel will never accept the full return of the Palestinian refugees,
which is sure to change the demographic pattern of the Israeli society.
Israel can allow a limited return of the refugees and provide a
compensation for those who agree to give up their claim for return. No
peace process is going to succeed without a permanent solution to the
refugee issue, he added.
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
To subscribe to this group, send an email to:
NEWS ARCHIVE IS OPEN TO PUBLIC VIEW
Need some good karma? Appreciate the service?
Please consider donating to WVNS today.
Email ummyakoub@... for instructions.
To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to: