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The world’s longest running refugee crisis

2018-09-24 00:00:01
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The 73rd Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly opened on September 18, and the general debate which commences on 25 September is scheduled to continue for nine days.   


US President Donald Trump -the leader of the world’s most powerful nation- will be among the host of world leaders and dignitaries attending the UN General Assembly.   
Benjamin Netyanyahu, prime minister of Israel will also, most probably participate, even if only to berate the world body claiming it is biased against Israel... quite forgetting, that it was the UN itself which carved the state of Israel out of what was originally the land of Palestine via UN General Assembly Resolution 273.   


At the other end of the spectrum will be President Mahamud Abbas, leader of the State of Palestine. A state with recognised borders as set out in the Oslo Accord of 1993, but growing smaller as the years pass. These borders have been slowly but steadily, brazenly and openly eroded by the State of Israel.   


And the UN, while on occasion condemning Israeli land-grabbing and other atrocities committed against Palestinian civillians, has largely been ineffective to stop Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory, the eviction of Palestinians from their homes and lands, or halt the atrocities committed against Palestinian civillians -mainly due to the US using its veto to halt the raising of these issues at the UN Security Council.   


According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides services to around five million Palestinian refugees, mainly descendants of individuals who fled Palestine in the 1948 conflict, after Israeli terrorist organisations unleashed death and terror on Palestinians prior to the creation of the State of Israel.   


In the massacre at Deir Yasin -8 April 1948- around 120 fighters from the Israeli terrorist groups Irgun and Lehi attacked the village, a Palestinian village comprising around 600 people. During the attack, hundreds of Palestinians were killed including women and children.   


According to a count conducted by Jacques de Reynier of the International Red Cross, apart from the bodies left lying on the streets 150 corpses were found in one cistern alone. Among them people who had either been decapitated or disemboweled.   


Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote that there were also cases of mutiliation and rape...   


Today nearly a third of the registered Palestinian refugees -more than 1.5 million persons- live in 58 recognised Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including East Jerusalem  During the 1948 Palestine conflict, around 85% (720,000 people) of the Palestinian Arab population of what became Israel fled or were expelled from their homes, to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, to the countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.   


They and their descendants are assisted by UNRWA in 59 registered camps, 10 of which were established in the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967 to cope with new Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian refugees and displaced population have grown to be the second largest in the world.   


It costs the UNWRA around $ 500 million to help the Palestinian refugees. The US contributed US $ 350 million to this fund. Last month however, US President Trump announced that he was stopping with immediate effect the US contribution, because, according to him the Palestinians are not doing enough to take the peace process forward!   


During the past week a delegation from the Palestinian parliament were in Sri Lanka to raise support for their cause at the ongoing General Assembly sessions. The delegation said President Abbas would expose Israeli atrocities, its failure to adhere by the Oslo Accord and US complicity.   


For too long the Palestinian leadership did not bring charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and charges of genocide against the Israeli state for fear of losing the US contribution to the UNRWA programmes. They also delayed applying for full member status to the UN for the same reason.   


Now, with nothing to lose, President Abbas who has long been holding back on making an application for full UN membership and charging Israel with war crimes before the ICC may feel emboldened to demand full-membership in the UN and press charges against Israel.   


The 73rd Session of the UN could well be the turning point in the Palestinians search for justice; and perhaps, perhaps, lead to sanctions against the criminals responsible for the committing of war crimes.


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