CAIRO — White House Democratic front-runner Senator Barak Obama believes Israel must remain a Jewish state and Palestinian refugees must forget about every returning to their homes.
"The right of return is something that is not an option in a literal sense," Obama told Israel’s The Jerusalem Post in an interview published on Tuesday, January 29.
Millions of Palestinians have fled or were being forced out of their homes when Israel was created on the rubble of Palestine in 1948.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, also defines as refugees the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948.
The number of registered Palestine refugees has subsequently grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than 4.4 million in 2005, and continues to rise due to natural population growth.
One-third of the registered Palestine refugees live in 58 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
UN resolutions guarantee the right of return of Palestinian refugees, many still holding the keys and titles of their homes in what is now Israel.
The first Palestinian atlas was launched in 2005 to document for the generations to come territories usurped and occupied by Israel.
Up to 50,000 maps charting Palestinian sites that date back to 1799 are found in the English-language geographical encyclopedia.
Obama, leading the race for the Democratic White House ticket with rival Hillary Clinton, says the Palestinians cannot have their long-aspired independent state unless Israel is completely safe.
"We cannot move forward until there is some confidence that the Palestinians are able to provide the security apparatus that would prevent constant attacks against Israel from taking place."
Obama believes Israel must remain a "Jewish" state.
"The outlines of any agreement would involve ensuring that Israel remains a Jewish state."
He was virtually echoing similar statements by incumbent President George W. Bush, repeated during his recent Mideast tour earlier this month.
Bush stressed that Israel must be "a homeland for the Jewish people" under any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
Recognizing Israel as such would not only deprive millions of Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes in what is today Israel but might also affect the future of Israeli Arabs.
Israeli Arabs, who make up nearly a fifth of Israel’s population, descendants of Palestinians who stayed when Israel was founded.
It is not the first time that Obama articulates pro-Israel statements.
He and Clinton frequently voiced support for Israel and Jews, with a eye on Jewish voters estimated to be 2 to 3 percent of the American electorate.
Last Tuesday, Obama called on the Bush administration not to endorse a UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel’s collective punishment of the 1.6 million civilian population in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Obama also dismissed allegations about his Muslim roots as a smear campaign targeting Jews themselves.
"There has been a constant and virulent smear campaign via the Internet that has been particularly targeted against the Jewish community," he said.
"It is absolutely false. I have never practiced Islam. I was raised by my secular mother, and I have been a member of the Christian religion and an active Christian."
Obama regularly mentions his time living and attending school in Indonesia and the fact that his Kenyan grandfather was a Muslim, which made opponents describing him as a Muslim in disguise.
He told The Jerusalem Post he wanted to speak personally on the subject so that voters in the Jewish community could hear "from the horse’s mouth" that "there is no substance there and that there is a strong and deep commitment and connection to the Jewish community that should not be questioned