Ynet.com (Part of Yedioth Group, Israel's largest media company)
Right of Return
Haifa mayor: I agree to refugees' return
In interview to Israeli-Arab newspaper, town's Head Yahav says he does not object to Palestinians going back to Haifa in framework of peace deal between Israel and PA
By Roee Nahmias
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav said he does not object to the return of Palestinian refugees to the northern town in the framework of a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In an interview to Israeli-Arab newspaper Kul al-Arab, Yahav was asked whether he accepts, "theoretically and in principle," the return to the town of tens of thousands of Palestinians that emigrated from Haifa in 1948.
"Basically," Yahav replied, "I don't see any reason why some of the Palestinian residents should not go back to Haifa in the framework of deal that would be accepted and signed by the Israeli government, and that would put an end to the conflict with the Palestinian people."
Yahav added that he sympathized with the Palestinian exiles' pain. "I'll tell you frankly that I feel deeply for the refugees and their suffering and hope that their problem is solved, as my father has also tasted the bitter taste of loss and exile after he fled Germany," he explained.
'Blood spilled in vain'
During the interview, the mayor was also asked how he believes the conflict between the two people can be resolved, and answered: "Woe to us if we don’t make peace. We have no other option but to talk, engage in dialogue and find pragmatic solutions. There is no justification for this continued bloodshed, as the blood is spilled in vain."
When asked whether he was not concerned about a growth in the rate of Arabs in the city's population, Yahav said this did not worry him at all. "Arabs currently make up about 13 percent of the town's population. I would be happy to see many educated Arabs come here."
The Haifa Municipality spokesman, Tzhai Terno, commented on Yahav's statements: "The reporter asked if Yahav would agree to a return of the refugees in the framework of a deal between the Israeli government and the Palestinians, and he said he would accept any agreement signed by Israel."
PHOTO CAPTION: Yahav. Feels for Palestinians Photo: Elad Gershgorn
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