Emirati billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor said that millions of Palestinian refugees will never return to the homes from which they left after the Nakba in 1948, and described the Palestinians' adherence to the right of return as intransigent.
Al Habtoor’s speech faced a widespread wave of anger on social media.
Al Habtoor added - in an English-language article published yesterday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz - that, "instead of demanding the return of Palestinian refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere, it would be better for them to ask the host countries to remove the camps and grant the refugees the right to work and own their own home."
The Emirati billionaire, known for his support for the normalization of relations with Israel for years, claimed that Palestinian refugees "transmit false hopes to their children, hand them over the keys to homes that were for their fathers or grandparents, and keep the intense hatred of Israelis alive from one generation to the next. This is an unfair behavior for both generations."
Al Habtoor’s article received welcome echoes in Israeli circles. “The man of peace, Mr. Khalaf Al Habtoor writes a word of truth,” said the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman for Arab Media Hassan Kaaba, commenting on Al Habtoor’s article.
Khalaf Al Habtoor
deserves all respect and appreciation for his stances that always call for peace
. He announced his peaceful stances for a long time and before even talking about Israeli-Emirati peace.
Khalaf Al Habtoor is a model of a brave, educated and respected man, and the first Emirati businessman will open a representative office for his companies in Israel 🇮🇱 🇦🇪 pic.twitter .com / UnKG0qpBSI
- Hassan Kaabia (@HassanKaabia) September 28, 2020
On the other hand, many social media activists directed harsh criticism of Al Habtoor's statements regarding the right of return of refugees, and many angrily questioned who gave the right to the Emirati businessman to speak on behalf of millions of Palestinians in the diaspora.
Other activists considered that what Al Habtoor issued in the article falls within the betrayal of the Palestinian cause, and this is the same description that was directed to the Emirati authorities after the announcement last August of an agreement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv to normalize their relations after mediation by the United States.
Khalaf Al Habtoor: There will be no return of Palestinian refugees.
Is it possible for a sane person or someone who has an iota of conscience to justify and justify this betrayal in the demonstration to drive the Palestinians from their homes?
- Ahmed Al Shaiba Al Nuaimi (@Ahmad_Alshaibah) October 7, 2020
The successor to Al Habtoor has been known for years for his stances in favor of normalizing relations with Israel. After Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv signed an agreement last month to normalize relations between them, the "Al Habtoor Group", which was founded by the billionaire, announced a number of agreements with Israeli companies to carry out joint commercial activities in areas, including running Flights and autonomous cars.
Khalaf Al Habtoor writes for the Israeli newspaper @haaretzcom, saying:
"The right of return for Palestinian refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere will never happen."
Who gave you the right to waive the rights of others pic.twitter.com/tN2bsmPePn
- Hamad Al Shamsi (@ ALshamsi789) October 7, 2020
At the end of last year, Al Habtoor called, in an interview with a magazine speaking on behalf of the Jewish community in the United States, for the Gulf states to normalize relations with Israel and to publicly express their desire to establish relations with Tel Aviv.
The Emirati billionaire added in the interview that "Arabs and Jews are cousins and it is stupid for them to fight," adding that he wants the UAE's relations with Israel to be open, and for each of them to be able to benefit politically and economically from those relations.