PA Denies Voting Rights to Refugees for Political Purposes

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 05-Jul-04 | Author: Itamar Marcus and Barbara Croo| Source: Palestinian Media Watch

Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza
A striking decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) will deprive Palestinian occupants of refugee camps of their basic democratic right to vote in the upcoming local elections. This is another step in the long history of Arab leaders abusing camp residents as pawns for political gain.

Since Israel’s creation the Arab world has actively prevented a humanitarian solution for Arab refugees who left Israel during Israel’s War of Independence. For example, Lebanon still prohibits camp residents from owning homes or businesses outside the camps, condemning them to perpetual economic and social hardship.

According to the PA leadership this denial of the right to vote is being done to highlight the “unique status” of the refugee camps.

The following statement in the PA daily by the Supreme National Committee for the Protection of the Right of Return also reiterates the PA policy of preventing the integration of the refugee camps into urban housing units, calling it a "danger".
“The Supreme National Committee for the Protection of the Right of Return – announced yesterday that it opposes the participation of the refugee camps in the local elections that are expected to take place in the Palestinian territories. The committee justified its objection as protecting the unique status of the refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank, considering them testimony to the crime that the occupation state made against our nation for 56 years. The committee warned of the dangers of integrating the refugee camps into the urban housing units...”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 29, 2004]