"JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threw a U.S.-backed peace plan into doubt Tuesday, saying the Palestinians must drop their demand for Arab refugees' 'right of return' to Israel if negotiations are to proceed."
Note the scare quotes around 'right of return', as if it's some unreasonable demand cooked up by the Palestinians just to be difficult. Note also that there is a universal right to return in Israel for Jews, which is not often put in scare quotes.
"Israel has always objected to the right of return for about 4 million Arabs who fled the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948, but never made renouncing the demand a condition for peace talks before."
The deliberate exile (some would call it 'ethnic cleansing', but I'm already getting yelled at enough elsewhere for using that loaded phrase) of Arabs from what is today Israel was not an accident. It was an official policy pursued by the Israeli government. Now, as you can see, they have no intention of addressing this wrong; before, they made a big stink about it whenever the issue came up, but this is the first time they've announced beforehand that they're going to, essentially, abandon the whole process until it's dropped. It would be good to remember this the next time you hear someone suggest that the continuing violence in the region is entirely due to Arab intransigence or bloodthirstiness.
"The new Mideast plan unveiled by Washington last week says the fate of the refugees will be negotiated in the third and final stage of the so-called 'road map.' The right of return is a cornerstone of Palestinian policy."
As, indeed, it is a cornerstone of Israeli policy. That's democracy for you, or, at least, that's the kind of democracy where only one group of people can vote. I forget what it's called exactly.
"But Sharon told Israel Radio the renunciation by Palestinians 'is something Israel insists on and sees it as a condition for continuing the process.' The interview marked Israel's Independence Day celebrations."
Palestine's Independence Day celebrations, unfortunately, have been postponed for the 55th consecutive year.
"Israel refuses to take blame for the consequences of the two-year war after its creation, when Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish state and about 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes."
Hey, it wasn't their fault! There was a war, which also wasn't their fault, and then they had to kick all these people out of their homes, which also wasn't their fault, and then there were the refugee camps, which also weren't their fault any more than the subsequent massacres at those refugee camps were their fault and -- look, the point is, it was the Palestinians' fault, or at the very least, it was not the fault of the Israeli government.
"Sharon called the right of return 'a recipe for the destruction of Israel,' because it would flood Israel with Arabs. Statistics released on the eve of Independence Day showed there are now 5.4 million Jews and 1.3 million Arabs in Israel."
And if you add 4 million Arabs, you get only a slight Jewish majority. So you can see how that would be a disaster, if the Palestinians were allowed to vote. They might vote for things in their own interests! Surely it's better to keep things as they are, with Israel being "the only democracy in the middle east" even though a bunch of the citizens can't vote. Viva democracy!