World Bulletin/News Desk
The Palestinian president said he has rejected a conditional Israeli offer to let Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria resettle in the West Bank and Gaza, charging it would compromise their claims to return to lost homes in Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas tried to get Israel to let 150,000 Palestinians fleeing war in Syria resettle in the West Bank, but dropped the request after the Jewish state demanded they first give up their right of return, he said.
Syria is home to around 500,000 Palestinian refugees, some of whom have been fleeing the country because of civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and fighters seeking to topple his government.
Israel has said it has no plans to allow them to enter the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.
"I asked the Secretary General of the United Nations, I told him to ask our neighbours to let us be bring them to Palestine. Four days later the surprise answer came to me, (the Israelis) agree," Abbas told Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen television in an interview broadcast on Friday.
"They agree on one condition...that each one of the refugees renounce their right of return. We said, forget it," Abbas said.
Abbas also told a group of Egyptian journalists in Cairo late Wednesday that Ban contacted Israel on his behalf.
Abbas said Ban was told Israel "agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee ... sign a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)."
"So we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return," Abbas told the group. Some of his comments were published Thursday by the Palestinian news website Sama.
The Israeli condition linked to the resettlement offer made it impossible for Abbas to accept, said Ahmed Hanoun, an official in the refugee department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella group Abbas heads.
"I think the Israelis were not serious about this offer," said Hanoun. "If they were, they would have endorsed the return of these people who live in misery, and not to blackmail them to relinquish their legal rights."
Around 5 million Palestinian refugees live in U.N.-run camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, after they or their ancestors fled or were forced from homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war of Israel's founding.
Palestinians believe U.N. General Assembly resolutions enshrine a right for these refugees to return to their original lands, an idea consistently rejected by Israel.
Their fate has been one of the thorniest sticking points throughout the decades.
Twenty thousand Palestinian refugees have fled from Syria into neighbouring Lebanon, joining 400,000 Palestinians living in hard-scrabble ghettos in that small nation.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied it would let Palestinians from Syria into the West Bank. Israeli government representatives told Reuters they had no information on such talks.
Abbas, who himself fled his original hometown in Northern Israel, courted domestic controversy last year when he told an Israeli news channel that he had no desire to return.
Putin said Ukraine's presidential election campaign was being conducted in an unacceptable manner and Russia would not view its results as legitimate
Kenyan police say they plan to deport as many as 225 illegal immigrants, including 214 Somalis.
Putin, a former spy during Soviet rule, raised a laugh among the studio audience when he said: "You are an ex-agent. I used to have ties to intelligence."
A water station was also completely burned down after local residents set fire to oil patches in the river, according to eyewitnesses.
Russian President said it was U.S. hypocrisy that had brought relations to their worst level since the Cold War
The Nigerian army announced the release of nearly 121 schoolgirls earlier abducted by Boko Haram, but Borno state officials denied the statement
Having worked as a telecommunications spy for Israel for 25 years, General Barokh Mezraahi had served along the borders of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.
The F5 fighter plane had crashed during a training mission in the eastern part of the kingdom.
Jewish Passover celebrations began in Israel on Tuesday and will last for seven days.
"We believe that this approach allows for the most useful process with the Russian Federation and other third parties," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said
Putin criticised the government in Kiev for what he said was a mishandling of the situation in eastern Ukraine that is "dragging the country into an abyss."
The media storm over the purported killings in Kramatorsk petered out, and Russian forces on the border have so far stayed put.
Nine people were found dead and 179 had been rescued, according to the South Korean government, leaving 287 unaccounted for and possibly still trapped in the vessel.
Media reports said he was facing the possibility of charges of negligence leading to death and also for violating a law that stipulates the conduct of shipping crew.
A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said the visit had been postponed for scheduling reasons.
Some 17 other soldiers were injured in the attack, which the source blamed on the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group.