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Right of return 'concession' shocks Palestinians

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West Bank map by the Palestinian Authority that was leaked in The Palestine PapersBy Al Jazeera Staff

Shockwaves went through the Palestinian diaspora after The Palestine Papers revealed how Palestinian Authority negotiators conceded a very limited right of return for refugees to Palestine.

According to the documents that were revealed on Monday, the PA conceded to settle on the return for only 100,000 out of some 5,000,000 refugees and their families.

From Lebanon to Egypt, Palestinians in the diaspora reacted with anger and disbelief to the revelations by Al Jazeera.

Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, immediately urged Palestinians to protest the PA's suggested concession.

In the Jordanian al Hussein refugee camp, one of 13 camps set up in the aftermath of 1948 and 1967 wars with Israel, refugees said the Ramallah-based authority has no right to dismiss the right of refugees to return to Palestine.

"Regardless of whether it was treason or not, we feel depressed by this. They cannot claim, as we heard and saw, that refugees have no right of return. We have the full right and we will not give it up," said, Abu Mohammad, a refugee.

"This is a conspiracy against the Palestinian cause. We tell Saeb Erekat and those who are like him, those who are above and below him, to withdraw and leave the Palestinian cause to competent people. These people are not up to this task. They should hand over this cause to those who know its value. This is the cause of 12 million Palestinians," added fellow refugee Abu Ramee.

Abu Mohammad said he was shocked to learn about The Palestine Papers.

"We are shocked, as we have been waiting for sixty years to return, only to find that others have given up our rights," he said. "This is clear to everybody."

Nearly 65 per cent of Jordan's seven million population are of Palestinian origin. They arrived in the aftermath of the 1948 and 1967 wars with Israel. Around two million are registered refugees with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.

In the Borj al Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, similar reactions were recorded by Palestinians.

"This latest scandal proves that we have a serious legitimacy problem in the Palestinian context. We have leadership imposed from abroad that does not represent the realities of our people. We have a situation whereby our people's reality is deteriorating day by day; concession after concession is being made and yet we are getting nothing in return" Abdul Razzaq, told Reuters news agency.

"Any person negotiating, whoever he is - the president or head of party or group - he should not abandon the basic rights for Palestinians which are: liberate Palestine, the right of return, and end this occupation by armed struggle ... anyone abandoning those rights is not representing us," said Abu Thaer, another refugee.

"We will reach nowhere by these kind of negotiations, it lasted for 10 years, it's all nonsense from Oslo and after; it's just a waste of our time while Israel is taking our lands."


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