Ogen Drori wants to stay in the West Bank so bad, he’s asking Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for that privilege.
Drori lives in one of four settlements slated to be dismantled and forcibly evacuated this summer, and is circulating a petition among fellow residents asking Abbas to grant them political asylum so they may remain in their homes. He said the petition has 10 signatures from five families.
"We are very serious about this," said the 28-year-old private detective from Kadim. "This is not just something we are doing for the newspapers. The State of Israel has given us a knife in the back. We believe we should still live in this country. If the Israeli government doesn’t want us, we [believe we] can still stay here. We believe all the country is Israel."
Drori said that from 1983 to 1985, he regularly visited Palestinians in the nearby Arab town of Jenin.
"I played soccer there for two years, and I ate in their restaurants and went to movies there," he said. "We lived together."
That ended when the first intifada erupted in 1988, but Drori said contact resumed after the Oslo Accords were signed between Israelis and Palestinians in 1993. It ended with the second intifada, which began in September 2000.
"I still have connections over there and I have friends over there," he said. "Why not stay here? Why not live together?"
"I believe that Abu Mazen will provide good protection for us," Drori said, using Abbas’ nickname. "I don’t believe we will have a problem."
Drori said someone who knows Abbas has promised to bring him the petition before the end of the month. And if Abbas rejects the request, Drori said a copy will be sent to the United Nations to ask for refugee status.