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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02AMMAN6706 2002-11-17 10:09:00 SECRET Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES AND THE RIGHT OF RETURN: THE

Tags:   KPAL IS KPRP 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 006706 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INR/I, NEA AND PRM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/17/2020
TAGS: PINR KPAL KWBG IS JO KPRP
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN REFUGEES AND THE RIGHT OF RETURN: THE
VIEW FROM JORDAN (C-NE2-01206)

REF: A. STATE 209364


B. AMMAN 5912

C. AMMAN 1805

Classified By: Amb. Edward W. Gnehm for reasons 1.5 (B) and (D)



1. (S) Following more than two years of Israeli-Palestinian
violence and Israel's intense and still ongoing military
operations in the West Bank and Gaza, few if any Palestinian
refugees in Jordan are focused on the right of return. In
the eyes of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Israeli
government policies and the evisceration of the Palestinian
Authority have made any discussion of final settlement
irrelevant for the moment. Moreover, with new Israeli
elections and the possibility of war in Iraq looming, most
Palestinian refugees in Jordan are deeply worried that the
Israeli Government will seize the opportunity to move large
numbers of Palestinians from the West Bank (ref b). Although
the GOJ continues to plan its position for final status
talks, questions of compensation and right of return are not
the most important issues on Palestinian refugees' minds
these days. Nevertheless, we offer the following in response
to ref a request for information.



2. (S) The vast majority of the 1.7 million registered
Palestinian refugees resident in Jordan enjoy citizenship and
(nearly) full rights. We believe that a sizeable majority --
especially those Palestinian-Jordanians who are economically
well-established -- would not/not seek to exercise their
right of return in the event of a political settlement. An
estimated 100,000 Gazans, concentrated in Jerash and Aqaba,
do not hold Jordanian citizenship. These, as well as less
economically advantaged refugees who still live in the camps,
would be more inclined to accept an offer of return to a new
Palestinian state.



3. (S) The public GOJ position and public statements made
by refugees themselves insist on the right of return, and
these public positions are unlikely to change. However,
private discussions with GOJ officials and refugees alike
reveal a general acceptance of the notion that most
Palestinian refugees in Jordan would not exercise that
theoretical right. While most refugees would like the right
to travel to historical Palestine (including ancestral homes
inside Green Line Israel), most privately acknowledge that
their lives and livelihoods are irreplaceably rooted in
Jordan.



4. (S) For Palestinian refugees resident in Jordan, the
most contentious issue in final status talks likely would be
the question of who would receive financial compensation for
relinquishing the right of return. Palestinian refugees in
Jordan, according to several prominent Palestinian
politicians we have spoken to over the past two years, will
expect direct cash payments for their personal relinquishment
of the right of return. A "flash" payment of the sort
envisioned in the Taba talks likely would prove acceptable to
Palestinian refugees resident in Jordan; any settlement that
would not include a direct payment would provoke serious
discontent.



5. (S) The GOJ, still plugging away at research in
anticipation of a settlement, will also seek compensation for
its own substantial expenditures for "hosting" Palestinian
refugees since 1948. Then-GOJ peace process coordinator
Marouf Bakhit (now the Jordanian Ambassador in Ankara) told
PolCouns in September that the GOJ continues to work on
"credible" numbers for use in negotiations on compensation,
calculating the number of refugees and displaced persons at
1.46 million. The GOJ reports that it has already expended
nearly USD 4 billion on health care and education for
Palestinian refugees and would seek matching compensation.
Bakhit said the GOJ would use a significant portion of any
compensation to rehabilitate refugee camps in Jordan, since
they generally fall below the standards of other Jordanian
urban areas for services, and symbolize the "outsider" status
of Palestinian refugees.



6. (S) The rejectionist groups resident in Jordan have been
surprisingly quiet on all political questions following the
GOJ's stern April 2002 warning against any activities that
could threaten internal stability (ref c). GOJ Department of
Palestinian Affairs Director Abdulkarim Abulhaija has
repeatedly told RefCoord that rejectionist groups understand
that GOJ security services will react "quickly and cruelly if
necessary" to maintain order, and they are keeping a low
profile. As a result, there have been few and only minor
protests or other organized political activities in the
refugee camps in the last six months. Although we are not
privy to internal discussions of rejectionist groups, we
suspect that they -- like the Palestinian refugee population
at large -- are focused more on current Israeli government
policies and perceived strategic threat to the Palestinian
people and far less on the question of final status
negotiating positions.

GNEHM