Israeli Minister: no Peace if Palestinians Insist on Return of Refugees
If the Palestinians insist that more than a million Palestinian refugees must have the right to return to Israel, there will be no peace agreement, Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said, quoted by the Associated Press.
“Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state if unlimited numbers of Palestinian refugees are permitted to enter its territory,” he said.
“For us this is really a question of whether we will survive or not,” he added.
The future of the refugees was one of the sticking points in talks between Israel and the Palestinians at Camp David, where the two sides failed to negotiate a permanent peace treaty.
Despite a deadlock at Camp David, Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks Sunday.
Israel's Oded Eran and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had a lunch meeting at Erekat's home in the West Bank town of Jericho, Eran said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that most of the refugees should be rehabilitated in the countries where they now live, Jordan, Syria or Lebanon and some should be allowed to return to a Palestinian state that would be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said the agency.
Jordan, Syria and Lebanon reject that solution, as do the Palestinians.
Barak reportedly is willing to permit some 60,000 to return to Israel under a family reunification scheme, but this has not been officially confirmed.
Sunday's Israeli-Palestinian meeting was not expected to be substantive, but allows the two sides to keep in touch at a sensitive point in their relationship, according to the agency – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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