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Palestinian Stand Against Aliyah Draws Rebuke from the Israeli Left

January 25, 1990
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An appeal by Palestinian nationalists to end the flow of mainly Soviet immigrants into Israel drew a sharp rebuke Wednesday from leftist parties in the Knesset that generally support Palestinian aspirations.

A statement issued jointly by the Knesset factions of Mapam, the Citizens Rights Movement and the Center-Shinui Movement termed the Palestinian position “unreasonable” and “detrimental.”

They were referring to a memorandum addressed to the Western countries by 26 Palestinian leaders, urging them to prevent Israel from settling thousands of immigrants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“The grotesqueness of the injustice of importing 1 million Soviet Jews should now be more apparent then ever, especially while the forced exile and statelessness of millions of Palestinians is being perpetuated,” the memorandum said.

Among the two dozen prominent Palestinians signing that memo were activist Faisal Husseini and Sheikh Sa’ad a-Din el-Alami, the mufti of Jerusalem, who is the most senior Moslem religious authority in the country.

Husseini, an advocate of non-violent resistance to the Israeli presence in the administered territories, is considered the leader of the group.

He was arrested on Jan. 19 for allegedly assisting a terrorist cell in East Jerusalem. But the case apparently fell apart for lack of evidence and his was released four days later.


The memorandum was too much for even the Zionist left, which has criticized Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir for his talk about settling masses of immigrants in the administered territories.

The left-wing Knesset members maintained in their statement that large immigration will increase Israel’s confidence and that a self-confident Israel would be more likely to take the risks of withdrawing from the territories.

“The Palestinians ought not to interfere in the internal affairs of Israel, in general, and in the matter of aliyah, in particular, just like Israel should not interfere in the internal affairs of the Palestinian state, once it is established,” their statement said.

Shamir continued this week to feed Palestinian fears that they will be ousted from the territories to make room for Jewish immigrants.

“We need a large and strong people of Israel, as well as a large and strong state,” he said Tuesday while visiting absorption centers in Jerusalem.

It was his second remark in a week implying that the territories were needed to absorb more immigrants.

Israel’s foes also muddied the waters. Farouk Kaddoumi, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s foreign affairs spokesman, told the Boston Globe in an interview that he does not accept Israel’s right to even its pre-1967 borders.

Salah Khalaf, second in command of the PLO, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Iyad, urged attacks on Israel proper.

Israeli peace activists, meanwhile, have canceled plans for another joint demonstration with Palestinians.

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