Tag Archives: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Congressional letter urges Obama to shut PLO office

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Incoming and outgoing leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are circulating a letter calling on President Obama to close the Washington office of the PLO.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Edward Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)  are circulating the letter that says the lawmakers are “deeply disappointed and upset that the Palestinian leadership rebuffed the entreaties of your Administration and the Congress” by requesting non-member observer state status at the United Nations. The U.N. General Assembly approved the status elevation last month.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is backing the letter, while J Street opposes it.

Arguing that Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas broke a pledge not to take any unilateral action, “we believe the United States must respond strongly,” the letter says.

“One important way of expressing U.S. disapproval would be to send the message that such actions are not cost-free and that, at a minimum, they result in setbacks to U.S.-Palestinian relations. We can do this by closing the PLO office in Washington, D.C. We can also call our Consul-General in Jerusalem home for consultations. We urge you to take these steps.”

Ros-Lehtinen is the outgoing chairwoman of the committee and Royce is her replacement; Berman, the committee’s ranking Democrat, is leaving office and Engel is taking his slot on the committee.

The note circulating with the letter says it is backed by AIPAC, which an official of the lobby confirmed. J Street, which calls for an enhanced U.S. role in the peace process and for pressure on Israel to end settlement expansion, launched an effort Monday to discourage House of Representatives members from signing it.

“At a time when the United States should be looking for ways to encourage and deepen diplomacy, talk of ejecting one of the parties from the country defies logic,” J Street said in its action alert.

A Senate amendment proposed last month that would have shut down the PLO office for the same reason never made it to the voting stage.


House members seek recognition for Jewish refugees from Arab countries

Long overdue, and BTW Romney is right, terrorism cant feed the children or pay the bills Abbas,you never get it and thats why youll never get a state either…

Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Bob Turner (R-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to ensure recognition of the plight of the nearly one million Jewish refugees who were displaced from countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

A statement from Nadler’s office said the legislation would also recognize Christian and other displaced populations. The bill would strongly encourage President Barack Obamaand representatives of the administration, when speaking on the issue of Middle Eastern refugees at international forums, to pair any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees with similar reference to Jewish and other refugee populations.

“The suffering and terrible injustices visited upon Jewish refugees in the Middle East needs to be acknowledged,” said Nadler. “It is simply wrong to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees without recognizing the rights of nearly one million Jewish refugees, who suffered terrible outrages at the hands of their former compatriots. This no-nonsense legislation would help secure equal treatment of Palestinian and Jewish refugees.”

Ros-Lehtinen added that “Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab countries and Iran endured unimaginable hardships. Their plight has been ignored by the United Nations, other international bodies, and many responsible nations. Any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement can only be credible and enduring if it resolves all issues related to the rights of all refugees in the Arab world and Iran, including Jews, Christians and others.”


‘Correct this injustice’

According to Berman, “The double standard of acknowledging Palestinian refugees, while ignoring Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, is unacceptable. In any discussion of a peace settlement, Jewish refugees deserve consideration and compensation equal to that of Palestinian refugees. Without such parity, there can be no meaningful justice and thus no legitimate peace.”

Congressman Poe argued that “every refugee, regardless of ethnicity, is worthy of human dignity and respect. The United States should not be playing favorites by advocating for one group of refugees over another. It is time that we publicly recognize the struggle of all displaced groups, including the Jewish and Christianrefugees. They are by definition a people that do not have a voice and need our help.”

Turner stated that the “plight of Jewish refugees in the Middle East is often inexplicably and unconscionably overlooked. The nearly one million exiled Jewish refugees in the Middle East suffered at the hands of their compatriots and their hardships cannot continue to go unrecognized. This bill will work correct this injustice and provide equal recognition of rights for Jewish refugees.”

The statement said that for more than 2,500 years, the large swath of territory extending from North Africa to Central Asia has been home to thousands of vibrant Jewish communities. Following the creation of the State of Israelin 1948, however, the status of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries changed dramatically. When virtually all of Israel’s neighbors declared war on the nascent Jewish state, many Jews in these countries were forcibly expelled from their homes. Jews were either uprooted from their countries of birth or became subjugated political hostages in the Arab world’s conflict with Israel. In all, approximately 850,000 Jews left their homes. In virtually all cases, individual and communal properties were seized and/or confiscated by governments without any compensation provided.

According to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the international definition of a refugee clearly applies to Jews who were expelled, or fled, from Middle Eastern countries: “A refugee is a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”

Yet, 172 of the 1088 United Nations resolutions on the Middle East conflict refer directly and exclusively to the plight of the Palestinian refugees. None contains any reference to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees. But, on two separate occasions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ruled that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were ‘bona fide’ refugees who “fall within the mandate of (the UNHCR) office.”

In 2008, the House recognized the importance of the issue of refugees from Arab countries by passing H. Res. 185. This resolution urged the international community to consider all refugees equally when discussing Middle East refugee matters. It also urged the president to instruct US representatives to the United Nations and other international bodies to make certain that references to the Palestinian refugees are matched by similar references to Jewish, Christian, and other refugees displaced from Middle Eastern countries.

Nadler’s legislation builds on this action by recapitulating the key facts concerning the hundreds of thousands of refugees forced from Arab countries. It would also require a periodic report from the president which would explain how the Executive Branch has carried out the mandate of H. Res. 185, detail any assistance the United States has provided on the issue of Jewish refugees, and provide recommendations on how to ensure equal consideration of all refugees in any final Middle East peace deal.


PA: Palestinian refugees will not be citizens of new state

By Annie Slemrod, The Daily Star//BEIRUT: Palestinian refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state, according to Palestine’s ambassador to Lebanon.

From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.” He says statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”

The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

The Palestinian Liberation Organization would remain responsible for refugees, and Abdullah says that UNRWA would continue its work as usual.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration recently pledged to veto statehood in the Security Council, which would leave the Palestinians the option of seeking a General Assembly resolution. If this happens, Abdullah says, 129 countries have committed to positive votes.

The United States has of late been taking steps to dissuade the Palestinians from taking their bid to the U.N., sending negotiators to meet with Palestinian officials. The ambassador says these talks have not been fruitful.

“They won’t offer us anything … that saves the peace process,” he says. “They would offer us nothing except to say that they will cut financial aid, and other such threats. Dignity is much more important than a loaf of bread.”

The last minute threats Abdullah refers to include a bill proposed by the chair of the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, which would cut U.S. funding to any U.N. body that recognizes the Palestinian statehood.

Abdullah says now is the time to seek statehood because the peace process has been stalled for around a year, and rattles off the dates of locations of failed meetings with the Israelis last September.

“These meetings did not bring us one iota closer to achieving the goal the negotiations were resumed to achieve.” He says that there are now new obstacles, including settlement building “with some haste” and Israel’s insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state or a national home for the Jewish people.

Abdullah says the Palestinians effectively have no choice but to go to the U.N. With talks at an impasse, he says, “nothing was left for us to protect the international consensus of the two-state solution.”

A U.S. veto in the Security Council, Abdullah says, would only harm the great power. “The United States is propagating that it is the champion of freedom and democracy around the world, and if it denies the Palestinians the right to be free, to be democratic, and to live in dignity, it is not a good sign for the U.S. It leaves a dark stain … It’s not good for America,” he says. “America deserves better.”

He says the U.S. should be mindful of “signals in the region … that are ringing a bell.” He mentions the tension between Turkey and Israel and the recent eruption of protests at the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

“If wrong policies are adopted in the U.S., it will only give a freer hand to extremism. It only empowers negative forces. And this will make it more difficult and complicated for rational forces to prevail.”

Despite clear signs of opposition from the U.S., Abdullah says anything could happen next week, when the U.N.’s General Assembly session opens and the issue of Palestinian statehood will be debated.

“When we go [to the United Nations],” he says, “we [will not] bet on anything.”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Sep-15/148791-interview-refugees-will-not-be-citizens-of-new-state.ashx#ixzz1u0NwfOuN
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)