Interviewing Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Cairo last night on CNN, Christian Amanpour stated repeatedly that Palestinian refugees had no right to return to Israel according to “international agreements.” (Transcript below)
In fact there are UN resolutions guaranteeing the right of refugees to return to their homes. Max Blumenthal challenged Amanpour “to cite one legally binding international resolution that prevents the Palestinian right of return. It is clear… she has no understanding of international law on refugees, no idea of Res 194.” He continues, by email:
Christine Amanpour claims “all international agreements” reject the Palestinian right of return to what is now Israel.” Yet there are none and she cannot state which ones she is referring to. She merely says “the parameters,” meaning the US-brokered outlines of a final deal that will never be. She apparently has never heard of Res 194 or international law. Significantly, Meshaal keeps saying he supports a state on ’67 lines, but Amanpour insists on playing Israel’s lawyer, declaring, “you know, everybody’s not going to be able to return to Israel. You know that.”
Israeli spokespeople have over-saturated American media outlets with factually inaccurate talking points that continue to go unchallenged by anchors and journalists…. What on earth is [Amanpour] talking about? She certainly isn’t talking about international agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Israel is also a party to, and in which the right of return is enshrined. She can’t be talking about UN Resolution 194 and countless UN resolutions which have recalled it. In reality, there are no “international agreements” which negate the right of return and one of the most significant reasons why no conclusive peace agreements exist today is because Israel refuses a just solution to the refugee issue. Don’t wait on Christiane to tell you that though.
AMANPOUR: It might be a reversed question, but it is still the question. All the international agreements about what a two-state solution should look like — and you’re talking about the Americans.
They agree as well, and the U.N. and Moscow and the E.U., that it has to involve Hamas, all parties, renouncing violence and accepting the right of Israel to exist. You keep telling me why not and who should recognize whom. But my question is, is there ever a circumstance under which you will recognize Israel’s right to exist?
MESHAAL (through translator): I will give you a reply, a direct reply and a lesson.
About the direct answer, I accept a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return.
AMANPOUR: I know you say the right to return –
MESHAAL (through translator): When this stage rises –
AMANPOUR: — you know, everybody’s not going to be able to return to Israel. You know that.
MESHAAL (through translator): Please.
What? Say it again?
(Speaking foreign language).
AMANPOUR: Under the international agreements every Palestinian who’s living in the diaspora is not going to be able to come back to Israel.
MESHAAL (through translator): Who said that? Who said that?
AMANPOUR: That’s what are the parameters.
MESHAAL (through translator): I tell you, I accept –
AMANPOUR: They can come to the Palestinian state.
MESHAAL (through translator): I tell you, my sister, you are the CNN, a respected channel. Do a survey through the diaspora where the Palestinians are. If you don’t find a majority — a big majority that want to return to their land, then I’m wrong.
AMANPOUR: No, they want to return to their land.
AMANPOUR: Of course.
AMANPOUR: The international agreements don’t provide for that.
I ask you, why the international community is silent about the law, about the…
AMANPOUR: They’re not silent. They say that under the international agreement, the return should be…
MESHAAL: Allow me, please.
AMANPOUR: — linked to a Palestinian state, OK?
MESHAAL: I asked you a question.
AMANPOUR: So I — you know, here’s the thing…
MESHAAL: I asked you a question.
AMANPOUR: — the only thing I wanted to ask you…
MESHAAL: No, no, no.
AMANPOUR: — is are you keeping on making excuses for why you won’t recognize…
MESHAAL: I’m answering. I’m answering. Allow me to answer. I have given you a clear answer. I am — I want — I want my state. After this state is established, it — besides its standing toward Israel, don’t ask me when I’m in prison and under pressure, under Israeli pressure. You cannot ask me, as a victim, what is my stand toward Israel. I have mentioned my stand when there is a Palestinian state and the Palestinians are living like any other people in the world.
But you asked me about the right to return. I asked you a question and you have interrupted me — why the international community is silent about the law of the right to return for — that allows every Israelis to return and the people accept this. The world accepts this. And there are Jews who have never seen Palestine, while the Palestinian who was born on — in Palestine, or his grandfather or his father, and he doesn’t even have the (INAUDIBLE).
This one is not — not allowed, while the Jews are allowed — are allowed. This is double standard. And it’s time to stop.
AMANPOUR: Khaled Meshaal, hold that thought.
We’ll be back in a second.