The right to return home for Palestinian exiles

“Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s arrival in the Gaza Strip ended 45 years of exile from Palestinian lands while underscoring the resurgent prowess of Palestine on the world stage. Meshaal’s presence at a mass rally to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas is believed by many to be a strong signal to the beleaguered and internationally isolated Tel Aviv. Israel tried and failed to kill Meshaal himself in 1997 in a botched Mossad mission in Jordan.”

The political head of Hamas has returned to what remains of free Palestine -albeit in name- after a forty-five year exile that began with the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Meshaal knelt on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by what seemed liked the entire Gaza population.

For millions of Palestinians driven from their homes and livelihoods by Israel’s army of occupation, the emotionally-charged landmark visit held significance far, far beyond an isolated visit by an endeared Palestinian freedom fighter.

Hot on the heels of the Gaza freedom fighters’ latest successful defense of their enclave, the occupied Palestine also won a historic victory at the UN. The UN General Assembly has officially recognized as a non-member observer, a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem – lands Israel occupied in 1967. Although the vote has yet to pay dividends to the situation on the ground, the international community has effectively endorsed the Palestinian position on their proposed future borders.

Israeli leaders, clearly still living in denial, responded to the Palestinians’ UN move by cutting off a regularly scheduled 100-million dollar tax transfer to the impoverished Palestinian Authority, and announced plans to build thousands of new settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s arrival in the Gaza Strip ended 45 years of exile from Palestinian lands while underscoring the resurgent prowess of Palestine on the world stage. Meshaal’s presence at a mass rally to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas is believed by many to be a strong signal to the beleaguered and internationally isolated Tel Aviv. Israel tried and failed to kill Meshaal himself in 1997 in a botched Mossad mission in Jordan.

Israel’s allies in the US, rather like wounded animals, have meanwhile been striking out at everybody and anybody including Iran and Russia. Left completely out of sorts, Washington has announced yet another set of illegal sanctions against Iran and even snapped at Russia using a Cold War era piece of legislation with a long-obsolete 1974 provision called the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, that tied trade relations with the former Soviet Union to the emigration of Jewish people. Calling the entire exercise “absurd”, Moscow has responded with its own set of sanctions against the US figures associated with torture and war crimes, leaving Washington to ponder the possible loss of exports to Russia currently worth 11-billion dollars but forecast to double over the next five years.

The erratic actions of Washington signal desperation in the face of political changes across the world that is beyond the United States’ control with the Middle East region by and large defying Washington on just about every issue crucial to the US hegemony there.

Millions of Palestinians living aboard who were ethnically cleansed from their land by Israel’s army of occupation are watching Khaled Meshaal’s visit to Gaza with some even allowing themselves to contemplate their return home someday soon. The significance of Meshaal’s return to the occupied Palestine has not been lost on Palestinians living in exile across the world. The visit indicates that the Palestinian right of return to their lands is Palestine’s red line where Washington and Tel Aviv are concerned.

With the alarm bells ringing in the Western capitals and completely panicked and politically baffling knee-jerk reactions from the US and Israel, it is becoming clear that events in the Middle East and North Africa region are fast leaving the sphere of US influence and taking on a life of their own.

Veteran Hamas strategist Mahmoud Al-Zahar told Reuters, “All Palestinians will eventually return to their homeland”.

A historic opportunity is facing not just Palestine but the entire world of Islam to stake its claim on the international stage. But we must remember that this is not the first time opportunities for such eventuality have arisen through selfless popular sacrifices and many others before have been squandered through mainly lack of unity. Leaders within the world of Islam must remember that opportunities of this magnitude do not come about every day and should the latest achievements be taken in vein, the prospects for any number of future generations could be lost.

Faith can move mountains but paving the road ahead, once the mountains have been moved, will also require unity, foresight and logic.

(www.presstv.ir / 11.12.2012)

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