Syria: Palestinian Initiative to End Fighting in Yarmouk Camp

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Palestinian children who were living in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp before fleeing Syria, hold banners during a protest in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Beirut 17 January 2013. (Photo: Reuters - Sharif Karim)

By: Nasser Charara

Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Al-Akhbar has gained access to the text of an initiative proposed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to end the fighting in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp. After Damascus gave its approval, the proposal now awaits the agreement of the Palestinian factions.

Al-Akhbar has learned from reliable Palestinian sources that the four-member delegation sent by Abbas to Damascus at the end of July was carrying a concise two-step initiative (see text below) for ending the ongoing battles taking place in the Yarmouk refugee camp between the armed opposition and the Syrian army.

Sources say that the initiative was inked in Ramallah and received the blessing of Damascus, with reports that it received attention at the highest levels of the Syrian government.

A year has passed since armed opposition groups took control of Yarmouk, turning it into a battle zone. Thousands of Palestinians and Syrians living in the camp were forced to flee, either to the surrounding area or refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon.

These sources expect that the Palestinian factions should complete their deliberations within days. Notably, Hamas was not included in the discussions, according to sources, after the Ramallah leadership placed a veto on their participation.

The following is an edited translation of the Arabic text that Al-Akhbar obtained:

Based on the principled position declared by the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership regarding all the internal developments taking place in the Arab countries – particularly the crisis in Syria – which is not to interfere in the internal affairs of these countries, and prevent the involvement of either the Palestinians or their camps in these struggles, by maintaining their neutrality and preserving the camps as secure environments for their Palestinian and Syrian residents, empty of both weapons and fighters, in order to keep the Palestinian struggle directed against our primary enemy, the Israeli occupation.

Based on all this, and after the developments which led to the dispersal of hundreds of thousands of our people in the camps, which were then turned into insecure and dangerous zones … we the factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, propose the following initiative, with the hope that in cooperation with all those concerned, we can work together to achieve the following.

First, based on our principled position of positive neutrality and keeping the Palestinians and their camps out of the confrontations in Syria, we propose that all the Palestinian camps – and Yarmouk camp in particular – be secure and safe areas, free of weapons and fighters, by taking the following steps:

– End all public display of weapons and fighters, with guarantees to those who wish to do so.

– Avoid the use of the camps as areas of confrontation and cease all forms of fighting, including sniping and shelling.

– Allow the free movement of people, food, medical supplies and vehicles in and out of the camp, which will encourage the return of the displaced to their homes.

– Restore services, including electricity, water, telecommunications, schools, and hospitals.

– Provide amnesty to all those camp residents who have been detained if their involvement in the fighting cannot be confirmed.

Second, follow up and coordinate efforts in order to execute the steps outlined in the proposal by eliminating all obstacles, providing all that is required for its success.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Short version:

"Surreptitiously supporting Israel and Qatar in the hope of a bag of Gulf cash is only a good idea if you win.

Since we are losing hard, and our Machiavellian approach to the situation will now be exposed during the recriminations - we are done here.

But remember that Hamas are even bigger sell-outs!

Bye!

P.L.O."

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