On Mondayو June 15, 2020 — the Palestinian Association for Women Abroad held an online seminar on Zoom, titled: "Naksa: Repercussions and Effects,” on the 53rd anniversary of the setback— the day on which the Palestinian people were displaced after the Israeli occupation won the Six-Day war.
The seminar was attended by the Palestinian writer and researcher Sari Orabi and Dr. Nadia Saad Eddin, director of the Palestinian affairs column at Al Ghad newspaper, and Dr. Aroub Al-Abed, a refugee affairs expert, while journalist Duaa Jabr moderated the discussions.
Addressing the implications of the gradual occupation of Palestine, writer Sari Orabi said:
"The Israeli occupation embarked on its Zionist project with an eye on the West Bank. It was not only the coast or what they occupied in 1948. According to its propaganda, the West Bank is Judea and Samaria, based on which they brought the Jews to Palestine. That is the occupation never excluded the West Bank.”
"There were military and political repercussions on the ground that postponed the occupation of the West Bank. But I believe that there is a Zionist vision that necessitates establishing the Zionist presence and granting Israel legitimacy within Palestine. Having achieved legitimacy, it would then expand within Palestine.”
He further stressed that:
"When the Israelis agreed to the partition resolution no. 181, they did not consent to share Palestine and grant Palestinians a state. What the occupation wanted was to acquire international legitimacy. Israel was established in one way or another according to a set of factors, including international legitimacy, and United Nations resolutions that recognized the state of Israel on the land of Palestine, while it also sought legitimacy and recognition from Arabs.”
Orabi believes that the Zionist occupation is fully aware of tow complexes that are weighing it down. The first is the rejection of its existence, given that its existence is threatened by any emergency or a shift in the power balance. The second, however, is that its strategic depth without occupying the entire Palestinian land, including the West Bank, lacks the required action, which puts its presence to extreme risk.
“Three reasons make the West Bank and object of interest to the Israeli occupation—strategic depth, the Zionist-based propaganda and considering the West Bank Israel’s venting place speaking of its dense population,” he said.
Since 2000, the truths on the ground have shown that the Palestinian Authority must reconsider the settlement track, he pointed out, adding that, “It is the one that brought Palestinians to the tragic situation they are grabbling with,” stressing the necessity to regain national unity.
For her part, Dr. Nadia Saad Eddin traced the details of the Palestinian political mindset’s shifts and the track that the Palestinian cause took, especially in the aftermath of Naksa, such as “the change in the PLO’s strategy from wanting to liberate Palestine, to liberating the lands occupied in 1967, and establishing a Palestinian state on a part of it, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
A transitional stance overrides the PLO’s internal action, said Saad Eddin, adding that:
“It became fashionable as a tactic, arising from a realist reading of the surrounding changes and an attempt to instill the pillars of the Palestinian entity on the liberated parts of land, as well as a blow to the Zionist ideology that refuses the Palestinian presence. This influenced and was reflected in the decisions of the Palestinian National Council, which demanded the creation of an independent Palestinian authority within the liberated territories.”
She noted that:
"The Palestinian cause’s turning point was the Palestinian rift, which has been gaping as of 2007, while the Israeli violations continue, backed with colonialist plans aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, the last of which was the so-called Deal of the Century and the annexation plans that scheme to confiscate more than 30% of the West Bank’s area.”
She also cautioned against the current repercussions, calling them:
“Dangerous, engulfing the Palestinian cause given the current circumstances and developments. These challenges impose on the Palestinian side a need to bridge the gap and to reconcile as to unite and be capable of standing against the occupation.”
Exploring the legal and humanitarian dimensions of the occupation’s impact on Palestinian refugees, Dr. Aroub Al-Abed said:
“Most of the Palestinians in the Middle East are stateless and lack a homeland, which is one tough label. This is the reality of 5 million Palestinians in the Middle East and the diaspora.”
She addressed the roles played by UN entities that deal with the Palestinians’ affairs, such as the Compliance Committee and UNRWA, the UN resolutions in that regard, the host countries' treatment of Palestinian refugees, focusing on Jordan and Egypt, and the Palestinian refugees’ living conditions there.
Approaching the conditions of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Al-Abed discussed the impact of Jordanian government decisions on Palestinian refugees coming from Gaza and Egypt, including those issued after 2006 and 2016 regarding the topic of closed and open professional sectors allowing the participation of refugees, explaining that these decisions have had a great impact on refugees from Gaza Strip.
On the condition of Palestinians in Egypt, she added:
“In the wake of 1967 war, Palestinians were unable to return home, and they did not fall into the description of a refugee. Since 1967, Palestinians have been living there as residents of Egypt, not as a refugee. Egypt refused to grant the High Commissioner for Refugees the right to protect Palestinian refugees there.”
Al-Abed indicated that the Palestinians obtained rights similar to the rights of the Egyptian citizens under President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rule. Nevertheless, they were deprived of them in 1978.
"Palestinians were deprived of the right to study at government schools, work in the public sector, and most Palestinians in Egypt do not actually have the right to work.”
She also indicated that the number of Palestinians in Egypt, according to a study she conducted in 2015, amounted to nearly one hundred thousand Palestinians, while the Egyptian state talks about a million Palestinian holders of Egyptian documents.