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Haniyeh firm on ‘right of return

The Palestinian Authority prime minister urged Arab leaders not to compromise
on the demand for a refugee “right of return.” Ahead of an Arab League summit in Riyadh, Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that he was concerned that a Saudi initiative for peace
with Israel would curb the Palestinians’ demand that refugees from the
1948 War of Independence, and millions of their descendants, be granted a right to retake homes now in the Jewish state.

“I expect
the Arab summit meeting in Riyadh to reiterate the Arab countries’ commitment
not to compromise in any way on the Palestinian refugees’ right of return under
any circumstances,” Haniyeh, a leader of Hamas, told Reuters.

Israel has ruled
out admitting refugees, saying it would be demographic suicide to allow them to return to Israel and that instead they should resettle in a future Palestinian
state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Saudi initiative, which was first
broached in 2002 and is up for review in Riyadh, calls for a “just
and agreed-upon” solution to the refugee problem. Some political analysts
say that effectively grants Israel a veto option, though exercising that veto would likely inflame the Arab world.

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