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Abbas Goes on the Warpath, Tries to Steal the Show from Hamas
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
March 19, 2008, 2:23 PM (GMT+02:00)
1948 Palestinian refugees arrive in Jordan
DEBKAfile publishes here for the first time details of the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' master plan for wrecking Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. The project is called the "2008 Return"
Its highlights are disclosed here with DEBKAfile's comments.
The Palestinian leader has circulated guidelines for three million Palestinians to leave their homes on the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon on May 14 and march on Israel's borders, including the Green Line. The march is to take place a week after Israel's Independence Day on May 8, 2008. If Israel obstructs their passage, they will strike camp and live in tents until Israel surrenders and lets them through.
This stunt will be accompanied by pressure from the Palestinian Authority on international organizations to force Israel to implement UN Resolution 194, passed by the General Assembly on Dec. 11, 1948.
DEBKAfile's Middle East sources report that Abbas commissioned the "2008 Return" project from a special Fatah forum headed by Ziyad Abu Ain from Ramallah, deputy minister for Palestinian prisoners in the Salam Fayyad government and close associate of Marwan Barghouti, who is serving life for five terrorist murders.
Operation "2008 Return" is described in its introduction as a decision by the Palestinian people "to implement UN resolution (194), declare themselves holders of the UN blue banner, and return to their homeland, from which they were forcefully expelled [Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Ramla, Lod, Ashkelon etc]… in order to live in peace and security with their Israeli neighbors."
[DEBKAfile: This motion is dredged up from the past as though history had stopped at that point and the subsequent 60 years of Arab belligerence, endless conflict and further UN resolutions had never happened. Another part of the same resolution appointed a Conciliation Committee to establish contact with the parties and assist them reach a final settlement of outstanding questions. This part was buried under decades of Arab rejection.]
The introduction goes on to state: "Neither the Jews nor the international community can stand against the desire of the Palestinian people to exercise their right of return to their homeland and to their homes, land, holy places [Jerusalem] and heritage."
[DEBKAfile: Mahmoud Abbas incidentally lays claim to Christian as well as Muslim holy sites – therefore also Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee sites.]
The introduction is followed by a set of instructions to Palestinian communities, of which seven are the most relevant:
1. All returnees must attach the UN resolution and refugee card on their chests.
2. All returnees must bring their tents and other goods with them. If obstructed by Israeli forces from reaching their land, they must set up their tents on the border and stay there until Israel surrenders and allows them to cross.
[The plan is to deploy hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in tent cities indefinitely on all of Israel's borders.]
3. Jewish friends are called upon to assist in resolving the Palestinian refugee problem.
4. Arab governments and friends all over the world are called on to support the logistics of the operation.
5. Palestinian holders of foreign citizenships, especially US and European, are to charter planes for flights to Israel or neighboring countries on May 14, 2008, as well reserving passage on tens of ships to dock at Israeli ports on this date.
6. Personal invitations will be extended to all world leaders for their support.
7. Kings and leaders of Islamic countries will be invited, as well as members of the Israeli government and Knesset. Special invitations will be sent to the US president and members of the Senate.
The document ends with an appeal to the Arab nation, especially the Saudi King Abdullah, to support the operation politically, diplomatically and materially.
DEBKAfile's Palestinian sources report that Mahmoud Abbas intends to submit his ambitious master plan to the summit of Arab rulers meeting in Damascus March 29.
There is no knowing how much support he will win from Arab governments or whether the different Palestinian communities will rise to his call. The whole plan may simply fold for lack of response – or not. Abbas' main objectives appear to be to upstage the warlike Hamas and throw a wet blanket over Israel's anniversary celebrations.
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