January 17, 2008 - Issue: Vol. 154, No. 7 — Daily Edition110th Congress (2007 - 2008) - 2nd Session
THE ELON PEACE PLAN; Congressional Record Vol. 154, No. 7
(House of Representatives - January 17, 2008)
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[Pages H337-H338] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] THE ELON PEACE PLAN The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Weldon) is recognized for 5 minutes. Mr. WELDON of Florida. Madam Speaker, today I rise to bring to the attention of the House an important new plan that seeks to bridge the longstanding divide between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The plan is titled ``The Right Road to Peace,'' and it is a comprehensive proposal for finding an avenue to peace, as well as addressing the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. As we know, the Palestinian people have, for nearly three generations, languished in U.N.-run refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank. The author of the proposal, Mr. Binyamin Elon, a highly respected member of Israel's Knesset, he, at the heart of this plan, has offered an innovative approach for providing opportunity, housing and education to a population which, for a long time, has lived as a ward of the international community. Mr. Elon's proposal would end the cycle of dependence that long has shackled Palestinian development. Madam Speaker, I will include a summary of the document entitled ``The Right Road to Peace'' into the Record after my remarks. Today, there are approximately 1.3 million registered Palestinians being cared for in 59 camps run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or the U-N-R-W-A, sometimes referred to as UNRWA. Nearly 60 years after the first of these camps were established, virtually nothing has been done to return this population to a settled existence. The 1.3 million Palestinians living in these camps live in a world of poverty, their day-to-day existence solely reliant on international handouts. The history of Palestinian refugee problems clarifies why the Elon peace plan is so needed at this time: Following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced. At the time, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled also or were ousted from their homes in Arab lands. The U.N. established the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in 1949 to care for the Arab/Palestinian refugees. The U.N. has never created an agency solely to serve the interests of one displaced group of people. Many of the refugees do not even have historical roots in the territory now known as Palestine. Many of those residing in the West Bank are descendants of those who came from Syria and the Trans-Jordan area. While the displaced Jews of the region settled in Israel and were integrated into the Israeli society, the Palestinians remain sequestered in these refugee camps. Why the Arab community that perpetually talks about the welfare of the Palestinians does nothing to relocate these people out of these camps is strange and, for many, it's considered no mystery. Many of these regimes fought against Israel in 1948, seeking to destroy Israel, and their desire is to perpetuate the camps and to perpetuate the terrorism the camps breed. This, in my opinion, is unfortunate, and UNWRA is a U.N. agency established purportedly for the benefit of the refugees. However, in my opinion, it serves to perpetuate the terrorism problem. While UNWRA lets camp residents run their own activities, under its own oversight, the camps have become centers of terrorism, lawlessness, and crime. This further victimizes the Palestinians in the refugee camps who have no involvement in these criminal activities. Palestinian terrorists operate freely in many of these camps, coordinating attacks against innocent Israeli civilians and Palestinians who oppose their terror agenda. In 2004, the UNWRA commissioner, Peter Hansen, admitted in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the agency employs individuals who are members of groups like Hamas, a group the U.S. Government considers to be a terrorist organization. Madam Speaker, it is high time that the truth be told and that the UNWRA mandate come to an end. In its place, a proposal should be adopted that would [[Page H338]] truly resolve the Palestinian refugee question, regardless of whether there is ever a formal resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is no reason why generations of Palestinians must continue to subsist in squalor and deprivation just so regimes in the Arab world have a diplomatic foil with which to attack Israel. The Elon plan is simple. Working cooperatively with nations around the world, Israel and the international community will assist the Palestinian refugees to find new homes outside the camps. Why should Palestinians continue to languish? Support the Elon plan. The Israeli Initiative: The Right Road to Peace principles of the israeli initiative (1) Rehabilitation of the refugees and dismantling of the camps. Israel, the US, and the international community will formulate it multi-year program for full and rapid rehabilitation of the Palestinian refugees. while absorbing them as citizens in various countries. During the rehabilitation process, UNRWA, an organization that perpetuates the status of the refugees, will be dismantled, and all residents of refugee camps will be offered permanent places of residence, citizenship, and a generous rehabilitation grant. The refugee camps will also he dismantled following this process. (2) Strategic cooperation with the Kingdom of Jordan, Israel, the U.S., and the international community will recognize the Kingdom of Jordan as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians, and Jordan will again grant citizenship status to the residents of Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria and Gaza will no longer be recognized as a representative body, and all weapons will be collected from armed organizations. Israel, the US, and the international community will invest in the long-term development of the Kingdom of Jordan to restore and strengthen its economy. Israel and Jordan, together with Egypt, Turkey, and the US, will create a strategic organization to halt the Islamic axis based in Teheran, and to promote overall peace between Israel and the Arab countries. (3) Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. In coordination with Jordan, Israel will extend its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Arab residents of these areas will become citizens of Jordan (Palestine). Their status, their relationship to the two countries, and the nature of the administration in the populated areas will be formulated and set forth in an agreement between the governments of Israel and Jordan. ____________________