Accepting the principle of a Palestinian “right of return” is a complete non-starter for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, government officials said on Wednesday.
The comments came in response to Chinese news agency Xinhua’s
report that US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed to Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas that he agree to Israel’s allowing into the country some
80,000 Palestinian refugees as part of a final peace agreement.
to the report, based on comments from a Palestinian official, this proposal was
similar to one then-US president Bill Clinton offered at Camp David in 2000. The
report said Abbas wanted to increase the number of Palestinians allowed into
Israel to 200,000, and that this demand was under discussion.
in an indication that the refugee issue was on the agenda during Kerry’s talks
here, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel’s ambassadors abroad that he
would not agree to allow into Israel “even one” Palestinian refugee.
2008, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert is believed to have agreed to a symbolic
acceptance by Israel of some 5,000 Palestinian refugees.
officials said that Netanyahu would not agree to even “a symbolic acceptance of
the so-call right of return.”
“In the framework of two states for two
peoples, those Palestinians who want to return to the Palestinian state will be
able to do so, but the idea that Israel will take in any of the grandchildren of
people who fled the fighting in 1948 is simply a non-starter,” one official
The refugee issue, along with borders, security, Jerusalem and the
recognition of Israel as a Jewish state are believed to be the main items the US
will address in the document it is expected to present in the coming weeks to
serve as a basis for further negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians.
Kerry is believed to be shuffling certain pieces around, checking where one side
is willing to show flexibility on one issue, which might then lead to the other side showing flexibility on another.
expected to discuss these issues in Paris on Sunday with representatives of the
Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee, to update them on the
negotiations, as part of his continued efforts to win wide Arab support for the
Kerry went to Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday, during his latest
visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to brief them on the
The State Department on Wednesday said Kerry would be
traveling to Paris and Kuwait City for meetings from Saturday to next Wednesday.
The bulk of those meetings will focus on Syria. The State Department made no
mention of Kerry planning to visit Israel, though there is speculation he may
come back late next week.