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Treatment Frustrates Palestinian Refugees

January 04, 2004|Paul Garwood and Maggie Michael | Associated Press Writers

"It is an evil hypocrisy," said prominent Palestinian writer Mureed al-Barghouti, who lives in Cairo. "The language of the [Arab] governments and media is in one direction, and the real practices on the ground are totally the opposite."

Al-Barghouti is married to an Egyptian, but he and his Egyptian-born son can't have Egyptian citizenship.

The Arab media, particularly state-run newspapers, constantly denounce Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, but the refugees say they aren't getting any concrete help.

"All the Arab countries want to keep this problem looking like an open wound" to keep world attention focused on Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, said Ana Liria-Franch, regional representative in Cairo for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Some Palestinians in Egypt have endured two bouts of exile.

Libya deported about 30,000 in 1995-96 because its leader, Moammar Kadafi, opposed peace accords signed between Israel and Arafat. Kuwait expelled hundreds because Arafat sided with Saddam Hussein after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

"Arab countries deal with Palestinian refugees as a political issue," said Oroub El-Abed, a Palestinian who researched the Kuwait expulsion.


Associated Press writers Jamal Halaby in Amman, Zeina Karam in Beirut and Laurie Copans in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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