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Israel denies West Bank deal for refugees fleeing Syria

Jan. 26, 2013 9:34 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2013 9:45 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The office of Israel's prime minister has denied it would let Palestinians fleeing violence in Syria into the occupied West Bank, Reuters reported Saturday.

Israeli government representatives said they had no information on talks described by President Mahmoud Abbas in an interview with al-Mayadeen satellite channel on Monday.

Abbas said Israel agreed to allow 150,000 refugees to return to the West Bank only on the condition that they formally agree to give up their right of return to homes within modern-day Israel

The head of the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees told Reuters he had not been informed of any deal between Israel and the Palestinians on a repatriation.

"It seems to be, frankly speaking, an unrealistic option from the practical point of view, to move a large number of people through Jordan and then the occupied territory, or Egypt," said Filippo Grandi, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Syria is home to around 500,000 Palestinian refugees, some of whom have been fleeing the country because of civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and fighters seeking to topple his government.

Around 5 million Palestinian refugees live in UN-run camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, after they or their ancestors fled or were forced from homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war of Israel's founding.
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