As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was delivering his speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations last week, one of his officials in Ramallah revealed that 250,000 out of the approximately 600,000 Palestinians in Syria have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the conflict there.
The official, Mohamed Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that 93,000 of the displaced Palestinians fled to Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.
He added that those who fled to the neighboring Arab countries were living in harsh conditions.
Yet in his speech, Abbas largely ignored the plight of these Palestinians. Instead, he chose to direct his criticism toward Israel and the settlers.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly, September 26, 2013 (Photo credit: UN video)
Abbas saw no need to criticize the warring Syrian parties for killing Palestinians and driving them out of their homes.
Nor did he utter a word about Lebanon’s mistreatment of the Palestinian refugees or the fact that the Egyptians have been mistreating Palestinian refugees.
The only time Abbas referred to the plight of the refugees was toward the end of his speech, when he stated, «In the past few years and this year, Palestinian refugees have paid — and continue to pay — a heavy price for the conflicts and unrest in the region despite their neutrality. Tens of thousands of refugees have been forced to search for new places to live in.»
Abbas, of course, also ignored the fact that nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured in Syria in the past two years.
He did not, however, forget to mention in his speech that 27 Palestinians were killed by the Israel Defense Forces since the beginning of the year.
Abbas’s speech shows that the Palestinian Authority leadership considers construction of new housing units in settlements and neighborhoods of Jerusalem as being more serious than the displacement of a quarter million Palestinians.
For the Palestinian Authority leadership, the security fence in the West Bank, which has put an end to suicide bombings, is more problematic than the killing and displacement of thousands of Palestinians in Syria.
Not surprisingly, Abbas did not condemn any of the Arab countries for mistreating and humiliating Palestinians, especially in recent years.
So what if the Egyptian authorities are shooting and killing Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria? So what if the Lebanese authorities are imposing severe restrictions on the entry of Palestinian refugees? So what if Palestinians are being killed every day in Syria by the forces of Bashar al-Assad and the «rebels?»
Abbas does not seem to have time to talk about the suffering of his people at the hands of Arab governments and terror groups.
As he was speaking, thousands of Palestinians were stranded on both sides of the Gaza Strip-Egypt border due to the closure of the terminal by the Egyptian authorities. Abbas saw no need to refer in his speech to the Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is hurting not only Hamas, but also the entire population.
As his speech has shown, he is more concerned about Jews visiting the Temple Mount than thousands of Palestinians who are being butchered and expelled from their homes in Arab countries. That hundreds of mosques and churches have been destroyed in Syria and Egypt is of no concern to Abbas, who sees evil only in the actions of Israel and Jewish settlers.
What Abbas Missed in His UN Speech
by Khaled Abu Toameh
October 2, 2013 at 5:00 am