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Historically important
Arab responsibility for refugees
Historically important
Confusion about Israel-Arab affairs is often the result of incomplete or false historical information. This section clarifies some of the pressing questions of Israeli-Arab history by showing actual events, eye witness accounts, and other documentation of historical significance.
Arab responsibility for refugees
In recent years, known Palestinian leaders, writers and refugees themselves are speaking out and candidly blaming the Arab leadership for the creation of the refugee problem. According to these Palestinian accounts the massive departure of Arabs from Israel was willful, the result of orders by the Arab leadership. This contradicts the Palestinian charge that the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who ran in 1948 were expelled by Israel.

In this interview, an elderly Arab resident of a refugee camp, recounts the reason his family left Israel during the war and became refugees:

"This picture was taken a week before we left Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem] in June 1948, in front of our house. The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: "Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem." And we said to ourselves, "That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!" That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by." [PA TV (Fatah), July 7, 2009]
Another aspect of Arab refugee history is that the PA intentionally restricts the rights of refugee camp residents, both political and humanitarian rights, in order to prevent their natural absorption into society.

The following are more examples clarifying this important period of history:
Abbas in Lebanon: Palestinians here are guests, will “certainly return to their homeland of Palestine” 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2017
Headline: "The members of our people in Lebanon emphasize that they stand behind the [PA] president"

"The members of our people in the refugee camps in Lebanon emphasized that they stand behind [PA] President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas.
The entrances to the refugee camps were decorated with flags of Palestine and Lebanon, pictures of President Mahmoud Abbas and Martyr (Shahid) Yasser Arafat,’ and signs on which were written slogans that emphasize the refugee camps’ support of the president and that they stand behind him.
President Abbas yesterday [Feb. 25, 2017] continued his official visit to Lebanon for the third consecutive day. During the visit he met with President of the Republic [of Lebanon] Michel Aoun…
In a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart, the [PA] president thanked Lebanon for its support of Palestine and the Palestinian people in all of the international forums.
The president again emphasized that the Palestinian refugees on Lebanese soil are only guests. He said that he is convinced that Lebanon will continue to take care of them nicely and embrace them to its bosom (See note below –Ed.), until their certain return to their homes and their homeland of Palestine."

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are poorly treated, facing severe legal restrictions and denied many basic human rights. They are not allowed to own property, are denied access to Lebanese health and education services – which they instead receive from UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). They are completely denied employment in certain fields – including the medical, legal and engineering fields – and have difficulty obtaining work permits in general, and suffer from very poor living conditions.
PA official daily: Palestinian family stayed in Israel in 1948 because it was their best chance of finding a job, Lebanon offered no “source of income” 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 3, 2016
Headline: "The Ramifications of the Nakba in Palestinian Literature – stories of the expulsion and writing told by Yakhluf and Taha"

"The conference hall at the International Book Festival of Amman [Jordan] yesterday evening [Oct. 2, 2016] hosted a conference titled The Ramifications of the Nakba in Palestinian Literature (i.e., the Nakba means “the catastrophe,” Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel), with the participation of the authors and writers Yahya Yakhluf and Muhammad Ali Taha, as part of the events of the State of Palestine, the festival's guest of honor…

Muhammad Ali Taha began his talk with a story about his mother who died three years ago, at the age of nearly 95, and how three months before she passed away she asked him to accompany her to her home, meaning her home in 'Mi'ar,' which she left in 1948, and which has become a Zionist settlement called 'Ya’ad,' only to find that the long-awaited home is now a pile of stones and thorns. She looked at the sight and afterwards asked to return to her bed in the house that she has been renting with her family for the last 40 years. Taha noted that his and his mother's stories reflect the reality of the Palestinians ‘who remained in the homeland,' and that is the reality in which approximately half a million Palestinians are living, as they are refugees in the homeland and did not emigrate like the others in the year of the Nakba, which he considers the year of the birth of his writing, when he was seven and reached the Lebanese border with his family before his father decided to return (i.e., to Israel).

Taha continued the story with a question he asked his father afterwards about the reason for his decision to return without his relatives. The father answered that he remembered that more than 20 Lebanese worked in Mi'ar before the Nakba, and that if there had been an
Political Science Lecturer: Palestinians responsible for their own situation because Arabs rejected the 1947 partition plan 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Sept. 24, 2016
Official PA TV program Inside, on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2016, hosting Political Science lecturer at Al-Hazar University of Gaza Naji Shurab

Official PA TV host: “Does Britain not feel embarrassed before the international community [that tells it]: ‘You created this [Zionist] entity, which does not listen to the UN resolutions or the [UN] Security Council resolutions.’ Does it not feel [embarrassed]?”
Political Science lecturer at Al-Hazar University of Gaza Naji Shurab: “They do not view the matter like this, Raafat. If I am to be objective, and even neutral, Britain will tell you: ‘In response to your question, let us return to the history of Palestine and the different initiatives that were proposed as a solution to the Palestinian issue.’ And therefore Britain will hold the Palestinians responsible. [Britain will say:] ‘We proposed two states to you, or one state, or a parliament. Even [UN] Resolution 181 (i.e., the UN Partition Plan) that we proposed to you was rejected by the Arabs. There is a historical argument on the issue, and you [the Palestinians] bear some of the responsibility.’”
Click to view video
PA TV host: Palestinian refugee family left with other families in 1948 expecting to return in two weeks 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Sept. 8, 2016
Official PA TV program The Pioneers, on Palestinian attorney, author and poet Iskandar Khuri
Discussion about the life of Iskandar Khuri until the establishment of Israel in 1948, when he left his home in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem and went to Beit Jala, near Bethlehem.
Official PA TV host: "His family left first with other families when the pressures of terror by the Zionists gangs increased, and that (i.e., their leaving) was in order to protect their lives and because they thought that their absence from their homes would not last longer than two weeks and that afterwards they would return to them after the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine."
Palestinian refugees prefer to remain in Egypt and receive citizenship there, deny right of return 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, June 7, 2016

Palestinian female refugee on Fadel Island in Egypt: “I am a Palestinian but I do not know anything. I am a Palestinian but I never go abroad, I stay here. No, we do not want to return to our land, we prefer [to be] here.”

For more details click on "full article"

Abbas claims that “We are prepared to receive thousands of refugees from… Syria and the region, but the government of Israel continues to reject our request, ” but rejected 2013 Israeli offer allowing Syrian refugees into the PA  
Source: WAFA, official PA news agency, May 24, 2016
This speech was actually given by PA Foreign Minister Ryad Al-Malki in the name of Abbas. However this is not mentioned in the WAFA article or in the next day’s Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. A last minute change might have caused a change in speakers.

Headline: “[PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas]: Despite the occupation and a lack of resources, we are doing what is required of us in everything connected to international humanitarian aid”

Excerpt of speech by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the First International Summit on Humanitarian Activity on May 24, 2016, in Istanbul, Turkey

“Ensuring the existence of international collective political will to implement the decisions of international institutions – which call to find a comprehensive and just political solution to the Palestinian issue –is the first and basic stage on the way to ending all aspects of the Palestinian people’s tragedy.

As a result of it, the Palestinian people’s Nakba (i.e., “the catastrophe,” the Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel) was caused, which started to be carried out in 1917 (i.e., with the Balfour Declaration) and continues until this day.

Ladies and gentlemen, approximately 6 million of our people are still refugees and uprooted, living in their places of refuge in neighboring states and within Palestine."

Click "full article" for a longer excerpt of the article and background information.
1948 Palestinian refugee recalls that the Arab armies asked residents of his village to leave 
Source: Al-Quds, May 18, 2016
Headline: “Refugee Ali Karake: They notified us that the Zionist gangs would be making a short visit!”
     “Allar is an expelled village located southwest of ancient Jerusalem in an area called Wadi Al-Sarar, and includes a number of Crusader, Mamluk, and Ottoman antiquities and architectural monuments. Its residents were exiled during the 1948 war (i.e., the Israeli War of Independence, which Arab nations initiated and later lost against Israel), and the Zionist gangs established a number of settlement blocs on the village’s land and next to it.
Ali Muhammad Karake, 84, a refugee from the village of Allar… said that the residents of the village were afraid as a result of the acts of terror and massacres being carried out by the Zionist gangs against unarmed [Arab] citizens and farmers, and added: ‘We did not have weapons and we were not trained to deal with gangs and an organized army with a thirst for killing…’
He continued and said: ‘When news reached us that the Zionist gangs were nearing the village of Allar, the leadership of the Arab army came to the village and asked the residents to leave so that additional massacres would not take place.’ Karake added in an ironic tone: ‘The Arab army requested that we not go very far from the village, as the Zionist gangs would make a short visit and then leave, and then they (i.e., the Arab army) would let us go back. However, that short visit has continued until today.’”
PA daily op-ed criticizes Arab countries who have discriminated against Palestinian refugees for almost 70 years 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Mar. 13, 2016
Headline: “I don’t like anything”
Excerpt of op-ed by Hanan Bakir
“I don’t like it that men – without stereotyping – in one moment alienate themselves from the woman to an extent that they commit the crime (i.e., femicide).
When a recalcitrant man commits [a crime] and goes to prison for theft, fraud, or even murder, the women – the mother, sister, wife, and daughter – do not abandon him. They go to visit him with delicacies and beverages and everything his heart desires. But if the woman does something that the man considers offensive to him – oh dear! Within a few moments he forgets his sister, or his daughter, and draws his sharp knife. As if he was slaughtering a chicken, his heart is devoid of emotion and he does not even blink! And afterwards he becomes a hero! ...
I do not like the fierce attack of/against a few of the Arab countries, for their negative treatment of refugees, while rights are being violated… [of] these refugees in the countries of their brothers, the Arabs. The Palestinian refugees, nearly 70 years after their Nakba (i.e., "the catastrophe," Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel), still suffer violations and humiliation in the homelands of the Arabs!
I do not like the immigrants, who enjoy every kind of social security , allowing them to sleep soundly without worrying about tomorrow, and who are not concerned about the cost of medical treatments and the cost of medicine to treat chronic diseases… and then curse their new society, calling it ‘heretic’ and ‘lost.’”
Palestinian recalls his father decided family should leave their village in 1948 after 14 were killed in nearby village 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 12, 2014
     “The Information Ministry in the Tubas and Northern Jordan Valley district and the Popular Services Committee in the Al-Far'ah refugee camp dedicated the 31st episode of the series, ‘Memory Never Rusts’ to the history of the destroyed village of Qaqun. Abd Al-Razeq Hussein Kawzah, who is in his 80’s, recounted the details of his birthplace... He [Kawzah] continued: “In June 1948, I was herding sheep in a sorghum field, and saw smoke [rising from] near our house. When I came back home, my father told me that the Haganah (i.e., Jewish defense forces in the pre-state period had fired two shells at a village near our home, one of which killed 14 [people] and wounded 26. Soon afterwards, my father decided to leave… We left in the afternoon, and went to my aunt Amina’s in the village of Atil, where we saw people walking towards Tulkarem and [the suburb of] Shwaika. We took nothing but our blankets and bedding, but my father insisted on taking a flock of sheep.”
Official PA daily: Palestinians who chose to remain in 1948 received Israeli citizenship 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 27, 2014
Headline: “The Palestinians’ identity crisis of 1948”
     “On many occasions, the Palestinian society, and behind it the Arab society, are embarrassed in the face of the identity of the Palestinian who holds onto his land (i.e., Israeli Arabs who did not leave their land in 1948), while the Arabs and non-Arabs abandoned this (i.e., the land) and that (i.e., the Palestinian). The moment that one of the Palestinians of this group stands out in a particular area, we hear voices blaming them for being Israelis, and this is a great injustice on our part toward the people of Palestine…
Activist and blogger Muhammad Abu Allan:
Palestinian citizenship is the root, and the Israeli citizenship is the new [one]. Therefore, the Israeli citizenship imposed upon the Palestinians of 1948 (i.e., Israeli Arabs) does not cancel their Palestinian identity. The Israeli citizenship is a citizenship that is imposed on them by virtue of the illegal laws of the Israeli occupation, and therefore everything deriving from them and all of their components are illegal. What is happening on the ground has largely proven that the Israeli citizenship has not succeeded in disconnecting the Palestinian – not from his land, not from his heritage, and not from his history - even though 66 years have passed since the occupation of Palestine…
Al-Quds Open University lecturer Dr. Abd Al-Karim Maz’al:
As far as I am concerned, I believe that every Palestinian born in historical Palestine is a Palestinian, and no one can cast doubt on his identity and patriotism. This part of our Palestinian people has undergone Zionist occupation, and despite all the Zionist actions against it – including being forced to accept [Israeli] citizenship – it remains a serious bone in the throat of the completion of the Zionist [ethnic] cleaning project.”

Click "full article"
Jews from Baghdad “were expelled to ‎Palestine” by Iraqi PM 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 20, 2014
In addition to Arab leaders' responsibility ‎for hundreds of thousands of Arabs leaving ‎Israel after Israel's creation, Arab leaders ‎also expelled hundreds of thousands of ‎Jews from their homes in Arab countries. ‎The following excerpt from the PA daily ‎recounts the expulsion of Jews from Iraq.‎
     ‎“Not far from the [Baghdad Medical City] ‎morgue lies the ‘Al-Bataween’ ‎neighborhood, parallel to Al-Saadoun ‎Street, which was built at the beginning of ‎the last century and has become one of ‎the finest neighborhoods in the city ‎center. Most of its residents had been ‎Jews, before they were expelled to ‎Palestine at the time of [Iraqi Prime ‎Minister] Nuri Al-Said, after which it ‎acquired a Christian majority.”‎
PLO official asks Jordan and Lebanon to accept refugees on a "temporary" basis, even though the "PLO strongly opposes settling the refugees in any Arab or foreign country" 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 23, 2014
     “PLO Executive Committee member Zakariya Al-Agha called on Jordan and Lebanon to reevaluate their decision to bar Palestinian refugees uprooted from Syria from entering [their countries], and to allow them to enter their territories (i.e., Jordan and Lebanon’s) in order to ease their suffering. He emphasized the temporary nature of the Palestinian presence on their lands as guests until they return to their homes [in Israel]… He emphasized that the PLO strongly opposes settling the refugees in any Arab or foreign country. In addition, he said that Jordan would not be an alternative homeland for the Palestinians, and that the compass of the Palestinian refugees points only toward the return to Palestine – to their lands and homes from which they were expelled in 1948 – in accordance with [UN] resolution 194.”
Abbas reminisces about leaving land in 1948 before armies arrived 
Source: Facebook page of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, May 14, 2014
A video of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ reminiscing about 1948.
[Video clips of Abbas talking, interspersed with historic footage from 1948]

PA President Mahmoud Abbas: “During the last days, we began to feel the war approaching. The [prevailing] idea was that until the Arab armies arrived, the people would protect the land to the best of its ability, and the women and children would leave. To be honest, we were afraid. My family decided – I was the oldest of those who left with my brother’s wife and his two children – that they would move us. Where could we go? I remember [asking myself,] ‘Ok, how will I leave? What will I leave with?’ For example, I had two pairs of shoes, a new pair and an old pair. I said [to myself], ‘I’ll leave with the old pair, and leave the new pair for when we come back.’ Then, I remember looking at the city from outside, as if with a parting look.
I looked, and it truly was a look of sadness: Would I see this town again or would I never see it again? We left hoping we would return. They took us east, east of Safed, to the Jordan River. We wanted to cross the Jordan River alone, and head to Syria.”
Abbas oppose settling Palestinians in Lebanon as they will “return to their lands” (i.e., Israel) 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 4, 2013
     “President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday [July 3, 2013] that the Palestinian refugees are guests in Lebanon and [that they] will not interfere in its internal affairs.
In a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart [President of the Republic of Lebanon] Michel Suleiman, the President [Abbas] stated that the Palestinian presence in Lebanon is temporary, until they return to their lands and that there is no one among us who believes in settling [the refugees in Lebanon.]”
Palestinian refugee: Jordanian army told us to leave in 1948 War 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, May 15, 2013
PA TV reporter: "How did you leave [your village] Bir Ma'in? Did you experience the Nakba ("catastrophe," i.e., PA term for Israel's establishment)?
Resident of Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank: "Yes, I left when I was 20 years old. We left, I mean, the one who made us leave was the Jordanian army because there were going to be battles and we would be defeated. They told us: 'Leave. In 2 hours we liberate it and then you will return.' We left only with our clothes, we didn’t take anything because we were supposed to return in 2 hours. Why carry anything? We’re still waiting for those 2 hours to this day."
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Refugee rejected Israeli offer in 1948 War to co-exist in peace 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, May 15, 2013
Refugee Abu Amara: "The truth is that the Jews brought a mediator to us, a person we knew and who knew us. They gave us choices. The first choice was that you hand over your weapons and stay on your land and live the way you live. The second choice was that you leave if you don't want to hand over [your weapons]. If you don't want to leave and go away, prepare yourselves for battle. All three were hard."
PA TV reporter: "Especially handing over your weapon at the time."
Refugee: "First of all, for me, handing over my rifle at that time [was] actually like handing over my wife."
PA TV interviewer: “After you left [the ‎village of] Miska ‎, you went to Tira?”‎
Refugee: “We left for Tira, two ‎kilometers away… ‎Later, Tira surrendered in the Rhodes ‎Agreements (i.e., the 1949 Israel–‎Egypt Armistice Agreement). Of course, ‎afterwards the Jews came and we had no ‎choice, we were guests among the people ‎of Tira…‎ My father said: ‘What should we stay here ‎‎[in Tira] for? We have nothing here and ‎we won’t return to our village, so let’s ‎leave for Tulkarem.’ So we asked for ‎permission and left for Tulkarem…‎ Then, the agency [UNRWA] began to ‎establish the [refugee] camp in 1950 and ‎we were among the first to enter the ‎refugee camp.”‎
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Abbas rejects Israeli offer to allow Palestinian refugees from Syria into the PA, because they would have to renounce the “right of return” 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 22, 2013
Headline: “ [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] rejected Israel’s condition for the entry of Palestinian refugees from Syria”

“[PA] Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina announced yesterday [May 21, 2016] that President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the condition set by Israel for the entry of Palestinian refugees from Syria into the territories of the State of Palestine.

Abu Rudeina said to AFP in a conversation from Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] where he is with the president in order to participate in the Arab Economic Summit: ‘President Abbas requested of the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon that Israel allow the Palestinians from Syria – victims of the violence taking place there – to enter the territories of the occupied State of Palestine.’ He added that ‘Israel agreed but set an impossible condition – that anyone who enters the territories of the occupied State of Palestine renounce his right of return, which President Mahmoud Abbas absolutely refuses.’

Abu Rudeina said: ‘The issue of the Palestinian refugees and their right of return is one of the issues in a permanent arrangement, and no one can make changes to it, as the international resolutions stipulate their return to their homeland and the homes from which they were expelled, especially [UN] resolution 194, which stipulates the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.’”

UN resolution 194 (Chapter 11, Dec. 11, 1948) states that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return." Palestinian leaders argue this means that all Arabs who left Israel during the war (hundreds of thousands) and their descendants (a few million) have a "right of return" to Israel. Israel argues
Abbas: Arabs of Safed "emigrated" on their own in 1948 and became refugees 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Jan. 1, 2013
PA TV hosted PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on its Personal Meeting program. Abbas himself was raised in Safed, and he spoke about the town during the 1948 war. He reported that the Arabs were afraid that the Jews might want to avenge the Arab riots of 1929 and the massacres that took place then. 
     Abbas: "The [Arab] Liberation Army retreated from the city [Safed in 1948], causing the [Arab] people to begin emigrating. In Safed, just like Hebron, people were afraid that the Jews would take revenge for the [Arab] massacre [of Jews] in 1929. The 1929 massacre was most severe in Safed and Hebron (Note: 65 Jews were killed in Hebron, 18 in Safed). Let's mention the 3 men from these cities who were executed (by the British Court, for "brutal murders"): Ataa Al-Zir, [Muhammad] Jamjoum and Fuad Hijazi. Hijazi from Safed and the other two from Hebron. The people (of Safed in 1948) were overcome with fear, and it caused the people to leave the city in a disorderly way."
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Note: Muhammad Jamjoum, Fuad Hijazi, and Ataa Al-Zir "committed particularly brutal murders [of Jews] at Safed and Hebron," according to the report by British Government to the League of Nations. They were convicted of attacking British soldiers and murdering Jews in the 1929 Hebron Massacre, in which 65 Jews were murdered. They were executed by the British in 1930.
Refugee on PA TV: We left following leaders' promise absence would be temporary 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 12, 2010
Sadek Mufid, a resident of the Burj Al-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon, left Dir Al-Qasi (Acre region) in 1948. He was interviewed on PA TV's weekly program entitled Returning. Each program focuses on a different refugee camp:
     "We headed first from Dir al-Qasi [northern Israel] to Rmaich [Lebanon], considering what they (Arab leaders) said at the time: 'By Allah, in a week or two, you will return to Palestine.' The Arab armies entered Palestine, along with the Arab Liberation Army. We left - we and those who fled with us - and we all headed for Lebanon. Some people came to Rmaich and others came to the villages on the border, such as Ein Ibl and also to Bint Jbeil. People scattered. And we have about 11 or 15 [refugee] camps in Lebanon."
Click to view video
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Refugee: Arab regimes told us to leave in 1948 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, July 7, 2009
Arab resident of a refugee camp recounting the reason his family left Israel during the war and became refugees:
     "This picture was taken a week before we left Ein-Kerem [near Jerusalem] in June 1948, in front of our house. The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: "Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem." And we said to ourselves, "That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!" That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by." Click here to view
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