Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas called on the United Nations Saturday to press Israel to allow Palestinians effected by violence in Syria to take shelter in Judea and Samaria.
"President Abbas has asked the Palestinian representative to the UN to implement as quickly as possible, in coordination with the UN secretary general, measures for the return of Palestinian refugees from Syria to the Palestinian territories," his office said.
According to UN statistics, there are 525,000 Palestinian "refugees" living in Syria, most of whom are displaced due to the ongoing civil war. The term "refugees" in this context refers to the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence; only Palestinian "refugees" are granted hereditary status by the UN, in contrast to other refugees including Jews who fled their homes during the same conflict, or were subsequently ethnically-cleansed by Arab regimes.
Abbas's demand comes two years after he rejected an offer made by Israel to allow Palestinian refugees in Syria to flee to PA-held areas and Hamas-controlled Gaza – on condition they gave up their claim to "right of return" to other parts of Israel.
Israel fears allowing an influx of potentially tens of thousands or more into Judea and Samaria would gift the PA with a demographic weapon to threaten it with, as well as a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist groups.