At the end of November, I lectured at a retirement home in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, to discuss the PLO demand that all Arabs who have wallowed in UN refugee camps for the past fifty years to have the “right of return” to villages that they left in 1948.
I showed them the map of a “future Palestinian State” which the PLO Orient House headquarters provides in Jerusalem, which marks the 531 Arab villages that are slated for return, all of which had been overrun in 1948.
One of those villages was Um Khalid, which, according to the PLO, had been illegally absorbed by Netanya.
The PLO therefore defines Netanya as one of Israel’s “illegal settlements”, under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention, enacted in 1949, which forbids a conquering nation from moving its citizens into a conquered area.
The implications: the PLO will justify any attack on any such settlement that it views as “illegal”.
In January, 1995, following Hamas terror bombs that killed 21 people at a bus stop at the Beit Lid/Netanya junction, PLO’s secretary general Marwan Barguti calmly told MBC Saudi television why the PLO would justify an attack on Netanya: “This is an area that we have yet to liberate” We still have that video on our shelf.
Meanwhile, the formalized December, 1995 PLO -Hamas accord, signed in Cairo by both Palestinian factions, allowed the Hamas to carry out operations outside of areas not yet under direct PLO control in areas within Israel proper that had not yet been liberated.
These ideas of the “right of return” play out on the ground in many ways that have escaped public attention:
Over the past 7 years, the PLO developed a computer terminal with a base at its Orient House which helps Arab refugees locate their homes from before 1948, to enable their imminent right of return to places like Um Khalid.
Throughout summer 2000, UMRWA Arab refugee camps sponsored tours for Arab refugee children, their parents and their grandparents to visitvillages that they had left in 1948. They used Israeli Arab buses to circumvent checkpoints.
The above presentation made retirees at the Netanya nursing home very nervous.
They could not believe what they were hearing, that their city was considered to be a target.
They became quite emotional, and some of the retirees actually screamed that “all the Palestinians want is the west bank and Gaza”.
It was clear that the message that the PLO demanded the “right of return” to Netanya was a hard one for these senior citizens to swallow.
Yet there was one man who made it easy to listen: An Arab male nurse present asked to say something at the end of the lecture.
He approached the podium He stared at the map and and turned to speak to the retirees “This is what want. The ‘right of return’. That would bring peace”, said the nurse. I asked him if that meant that Israel would have to withdraw from Um Khalid.
The nurse, in a soft voice,said “yes”.
I then said to the nurse that this would mean that half of the Jews would have to leave their homes in Netanya. The nurse said, “well, that is the price of peace”
The retirees were stunned. The message had been delivered.
The Arab nurse at the Netanya nursing home conveyed the same data that I had just communicated, with greater credibility.
Since the time of that talk in Netanya, Arabs have detonated two fatal bombs in the center of that city.
Our agency, which monitors and translates the newscasts on the Voice of Palestine radio news program, the official Arabic Palestinian Authority news station, has discerned no Palestinian condemnation of these attacks in Netanya.
From the PLO point of view, these bombings occur because Um Khalid has not yet been liberated from Netanya.
In the words of Arafat’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rodeinah, speaking on Voice of Palestine radio following the Netanya bombing on March 4, 2001, “What occurred is an example of what results from Israel’s policies.”