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Democratizing the Refugee Issue

Project Report --April 2001 Note: This report reflects the summary of the voices of the refugees heard and documented by IPCRI. This report intends to present their opinions. The recommendations listed in the report are the recommendations of the refugees as summarized by the IPCRI Project Coordinators, Ms. Shireen al Araj, and Ms. Jihad Abu Zneid. During 2000, IPCRI convened 48 Town-Hall Meetings in 9 different refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. In all, hundreds of refugees took part in some of the most intensive and comprehensive discussions concerning their future that have ever taken place. In March of 2001 a survey was conducted with 1600 respondents. The results of the survey are presently being analyzed. This report relates to the town meetings held in the refugee camps.

The participant refugees confronted a wide range of different subjects that they selected to place on the agenda. A list of subjects had already been defined by the project coordinators and workshop moderators in a meeting that was held in the Youth Union Center in Kalandia Camp / Suburbs of Ramallah. This list was presented in each refugee camp town meeting for the participants to finalize. The focal topics of discussion were: Reality of Refugee Camps. The United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Palestinian refugees. Host Countries & the Refugees. Peoples' Perspectives towards Negotiations. International Resolutions on the Refugees' Issue.

Background The 20th century can be labeled as the era of refugees in the world. Influxes of millions of refugees were repeated on fairly frequent bases. People sought a refuge to escape suppression and tyranny either because of regional, national wars, or because of settlements, invasion and deportation of people from their homelands. The number of refugees, in this century, exceeded 50 million, where 5 million of them were / are Palestinians (according to today’s numbers, in 1948 they numbered under 1 million).


The past two decades in the 20th century have witnessed the return of millions of refugees in Africa, Middle Asia, North - South Asia; and lately the return of Kosovo refugees to their cities & villages. They managed to go back to their homes as a result of international military intervention. Notwithstanding that the Palestinian refugee question is the oldest and the most delicate issue, it has not only remained without a solution, but also without any positive developments towards it. The Palestinian refugees stress that it is also worth noting that the Palestinian Refugees' Question has clear international UN resolutions that clearly call for the right of those refugees to return to their homes. Its is, therefore, neither strange nor bizarre to realize that the refugees' issue has passed through a long thorny way of negotiations starting from the ratification Oslo agreement through Cairo agreement and ending with Wye River pact. Needless to state those negotiators have agreed once again to transfer this heavy file to the final status negotiations. Palestinians consider the refugee's issue as the key of the entire Palestinian question since it represents more then 80% of this nation. It ought to be noted that the Arab Israeli conflict had started long time before 1967. Several resolutions had been issued by the UN Security Council, pertaining the Arab /Israeli conflict as 242 and 181 together with a series of consecutive resolutions that either supported the Palestinian cause or stressed the previously adopted resolutions. Since the declaration of Oslo agreement in 1993, the Palestinian refugees have convened different meetings, workshops and conferences; as Al-Fara'a conference in 1995; Bethlehem Conference in 1997 and Gaza conference in 1997. In these meetings they stressed that there must be a just and comprehensive return for the Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 i.e. to offer the refugees of 1948 the right to return to their land and property. As a result of different proposals of the refugees issue; in light of the controversy that is prevalent here and there; and owing to the fact that there are various propositions for the refugee issue. Since there are different proposals to solve the refugee question, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information (IPCRI) in collaboration with the Union of the Social Centers in Palestine (The Union of the Social Centers in West Bank and The Union of the Social Services Centers in Gaza Strip) carried out a series of workshops in order to tackle prevalent matters of direct relevance to the refugee issue. The idea and rationale behind these “town meetings” was to provide the refugees themselves a greater say in determining their own future. From previous projects on the refugee issue conducted by IPCRI, we noted that the majority of refugee felt a lack of efficacy in determining their future. Many refugees stated, in surveys conducted by IPCRI and by others, the feeling and fear that their “rights” would be “sold out” by the Palestinian negotiators. In the past three years, much grass-roots organization has taken place in the refugee camps of the West Bank and Gaza aimed at preempting attempts to resolve the refugee issue in ways that would not be viewed as satisfactory in their own eyes. For that reason, IPCRI decided to conduct this project with the hope that by providing the refugees in the camps with an opportunity to discuss the relevant issues in depth they would also have the opportunity to present their preferences and priorities to their leaders and to the outside world in an organized and direct fashion.


Nine camps were chosen, five of them are in West Bank (Arroub, Kalandia, Ama're, Fara'a & Tulkarem Camps, Bethlehem area camps); and from Gaza strip; selection are mainly from central middle Camps (Maghazi, Jabalia & Khan Younis Camps). Heterogeneous groups were chosen so as to have a clear and valid social make-up of the camps.

Findings & Recommendations (In the words of the participants): Reality of Refugee Camps: The tragic circumstances and conditions of the Palestinian camps stress the fact that the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) has taken part in an international conspiracy of settling the refugees in these camps. A number of indicators reflect this fact: UNRWA moved its headquarters from Vienna to Gaza at the moment the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) came into power; 

UNRWA, then, started minimizing its relief services for the refugees;UNRWA is revising now a project proposal that aims at developing the PNA economy. The project proposes the integration of UNRWA's budget with the budget of the donor countries' to the PNA. The refugees stressed that UNRWA Services has to continue and not as part of the PNA structures or budgets. They stated that as long as there is still one refugee who has not retrieved his/her right of return to homeland UNRWA must continue to exist and provide services. UNRWA has also to increase its annual budget so as to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees; who with the turn of every minute a new born baby comes labeled to the world as a Palestinian refugee after his /her father and grandfather. UNRWA Services embody and reflect the extent of international commitment towards the Palestinians who had been expelled from their lands by force where the State of Israel was erected on their property. This international obligation is linked to UN resolutions concerning this matter. It is, therefore, the responsibility of both the international community and Israel to solve the predicament and suffering of those who became refugees as result of establishing the State of Israel on Palestinian land. The Refugees' Socio-economic Problems:

       

Dispersion and scattering of families. Scarcity of financial resources. The cost of living is very high. Refugees cannot meet these costs. Unemployment poverty are increasing at an alarming rate High dropouts among students Lack the international respect. Though Palestinian refugees have suffered for 51 years, they feel that international respect towards them is minimal. Increase in population growth.


    

Refugees lack the confidence in their political prospects; due to the transfer of their file to the final stage of negotiations. Unavailability of new job opportunities; mainly as a result of the closure of Israeli labor markets. Insufficient economic resources in camps. PNA job opportunities are not based on their percentage in the population. Marriage at an early age, and to direct relatives is prevalent.

Recommendations: 

In order to solve the issue of dispersion among refugee families, there ought to be a comprehensive and just solution for their cause. The refugees stress that this cannot be accomplished unless refugees return to their land property.

UNRWA and the PNA have to allocate part of their financial resources in order to upgrade the refugee's standard of living till they gain their right of return, but the camps have to look at as temporary stations and not permanent dwellings.

Create genuine job opportunities for the Palestinian refugees in the framework of PNA; together with working on re-opening the Israeli labor market for the Palestinian workers. These measures have to be accompanied by lifting up the checkpoints to enable the workers to have a free access to their places of employment.

Considering the refugees issue as a priority. PNA has not to accept the status quo by postponing this issue to the final stage of negotiations.

Implementing the PNA civil service law; along with opening equal job opportunities for the refugees.

Since PLO and PNA are hosting the refugees, UNRWA and the International Community have to open new business and economic ventures inside the camps so as to absorb new workers and to meet the basic needs of the camp inhabitants.

UNRWA and the international community have to revive their previous policies i.e. offering relief commodities that are usually given in times of war since camps are still considered areas of catastrophe.

Educational, Demographic, Health and Environmental Situations: Problems: In camps there are problems and obstacles at all the different sectors:  The Environment:


This sector suffers from:        

An increase in the proportion of environmental pollution. A shortage of sanitation services. No drainage network. Open drainage canals. Leaking of dirty water creating unhealthy environment. Widespread insects, dead animals and infectious diseases. Unavailability of closed garbage. Scarcity of workers in the field of sanitation and environmental health. Accumulation of solid waste in the camps' streets.

Mismanagement of UNRWA employees, in this area, because of the cleaners' low salaries and the absence of continuous monitoring and follow-up. Pollution of drinking water and a deterioration and erosion of the existing network. Shortage of environmental and educational awareness. Not providing the refugees with bulletins about contagious and infectious diseases together with their causes. UNRWA has to bear its responsibilities in this regard.

  

Housing:

Camps severely suffer from overcrowdedness. This situation can roughly be described in the statement of the following problems:      

Adjacent building. Lack of ventilation. Growth in population. Size of camps had not changed since 1948. Vertical expansion of buildings. Absence of general yards and public places.

Services:   

 

Heath:

Deterioration and low quality of the current water networks since they were abandoned without any kind of maintenance since 1967. The roads of camps are also left without maintenance. Neglecting the environmental problems and the various effects of climate on the camp i.e. leaving big holes in the middle of the paths, roads and streets of camps. Dangerous electric network due to vertical expansion of construction and its closeness to roofs of houses together with the weakness of the electric current. Absence of permanent periodic maintenance for the public service associations, namely youth, women maternity and rehabilitation centers together with kindergartens … etc.


      

Low quality of health and medical services that UNRWA clinics usually offer. Scarcity and even absence of vital medical equipment (i.e. x-ray devices, pregnancy test tools, and lab inspection equipment. Unavailability of essential and badly needed medicines; particularly for diabetics, pediatrics, cardiac patients. On-duty physicians; together with specialists for the evening period are not available in UNRWA's clinics and medical centers. UNRWA Medical referral/transfer system to the hospitals was suspended. Unavailability of ambulance vehicles for urgent cases. The number of patients is increasing at an alarming rate.

Education:        

Lack of symmetry between the number of kindergartens and camps' population growth. Schools' maintenance is lacking. The number of teachers is inadequate. The number of classrooms doesn’t meet population growth. Basic school facilities are missing, i.e. labs, libraries, etc. Shortage of guidance counselors and psychological services. Due to lack of sufficient school space, a two-shift system was enacted. This is negatively effecting the teaching/learning process. Teachers' temporary employment contracts highly influenced professional performance.

Recommendations: Environment: It is recommended to:        

Construct a well-structured drainage network. Find a solution of the solid waste problem. It is recommended to offer covered containers. Provide vehicles for solid waste removal. Increasing the number of workers in the health and sanitation sector. Providing pesticides together with the basic health materials to improve the environment. Controlling the consumption of water. Digging new water wells where possible. Working on having green camps.

Population: It is recommended that:   

UNRWA has to expand the physical boundaries of the camps. This can be done in collaboration with the respective parties. UNRWA has to renovate and upgrade the camps. Minimize vertical construction and expand the horizontal.


Providing public yards for recreational and activities.

Services: It is recommended that:    

UNRWA has to upgrade all the camps' roads and to renovate all the infrastructure services (water, electricity, telephones and drainage systems). Upgrading water networks in order to confront the pollution of water sources. Upgrading electric networks that cause a direct danger for the refugee inhabitants. Upgrading and developing youth centers and organizations that function inside the camps. (i.e. youth, women & maternity centers together with kindergarten, clinics and rehabilitation services).

Health: It is recommended to:        

Develop and equip the clinics with vital medical equipment i.e. x-ray equipment, lab devices and pregnancy test tools. Provide the clinic's pharmacy with urgent and badly needed medicines. Increase both the medical cadre and the number of specialized physicians. Provide a 24-hour emergency system. Provide each camp with at least one ambulance. Offer free medical services for the camp inhabitants at the hospitals - that UNRWA has sub-contracted them. Issue bulletins to increase health awareness among the refugees. Control the use of chemical and poisonous materials; together with establishing public gardens. It is also badly needed to plant tress and shrubs along the streets and pavements. Organize campaigns of family health awareness.

Education: It is recommended to:      

Build schools and upgrade the existing ones. Increase the number of classrooms. Increase the number of teachers. Develop the audio - visual aids at schools. Provide teachers with multi-year contracts. Provide libraries, labs, sports tools, play yards, modern teaching aids as computers and other supporting a/v aids.

UNRWA and the Palestinian Refugees: On December 1949, the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) was established. Refugees believe that UNRWA was established to manage the refugee issue for a long period thus prolonging the problem itself.


UNRWA has operated in Jordan, West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Refugees who reside outside the boundaries of these areas are not covered with UNRWA services. UNRWA has a number of programs. Paramount amongst is: 

The educational program:

It constitutes 64% of UNRWA budget; and 70% of its staff members; with about 14.000 posts. 

The Health program:

It has clinics, health and cleaning units together with environmental services. 

The Peace Program:

Introduced after the ratification of Oslo agreement in 1993 in order to upgrade the camps' infrastructure and to develop UNRWA institutions. In 1997, UNRWA 's budget amounted 692 million dollars. The United States was considered the principal donor to UNRWA (142 million dollars); seconded by the European Union (113 million dollars); and followed by, Japan, the third major contributor (49 million dollars). Since PNA has been in power and since the agreement with Israel was ratified, UNRWA followed a series of austerity measures whereby it began minimizing its services. Since 1993, UNRWA has been confronted with a significant financial crisis. This was clearly manifested in UNRWA's reports over the past five years. These reports clearly:  Emphasized the remarkable role that UNRWA has played in maintaining the refugees issue and in keeping this issue at the top of the agenda in the Palestinian /Israeli conflict. 

Should UNRWA be terminated as an agency refugees will lose the international recognition of their issue. Any international or regional intervention in UNRWA's mandate before having a fair political solution for the refugees issue shall, in the minds of the refugees, call for reviving the bloody conflict in the Middle East. Refugees turned down an offer that calls for letting the PNA be responsible for their affairs in order to keep the international community responsible for securing a just and comprehensive solution of their issue. Call for adopting UNRWA's and the international definition of who is a refugee is: (He is the person who had resided in Palestine for not less than two years before 1948 dispute; who had lost his homeland together with the basics of living and who became a refugee in 1948 in one of the host countries that UNRWA runs its operations in. The direct relatives of those refugees are


entitled to benefit from UNRWA services, provided that assistance & are registered as refugees at UNRWA; and should reside in its areas of operations). UNRWA 's Commissioner General reports, UNRWA: 1. Has not covered 15% of the basic camps' needs over the past 50 years. 2. Has severely reduced its services in all the fields: social, educational, health, environmental and so on. UNRWA justifies its austerity measures by either claiming overdraft in the its budget; or by the need to transfer its services to the camps in Lebanon as has been the case after 1982; or by stating that the existing budget does not meet with the refugees' population growth. 3. The 3% annual increment in UNRWA's Budget neither covers nor meets the minimal needs to cover the increase of costs and the rapid growth of population. 4. UNRWA's deficit in the budget was amounted 6 million dollars in 1995; as its Commissioner General had stated. 5. UNRWA has been engaged with the Peace Program. It thus, took part in the multilateral negotiations. Moreover, it moved its headquarters form Vienna in to Gaza. 6. The Donor countries have not fulfilled their commitments towards UNRWA and have in this way created a deficit in its budget. This has reflected negatively on the quality of its services that are offered. 7. The social health institutions inside the camps have to play their genuine role. Each responsible authority has also to cater for these organizations so as to keep it able to provide the refugees with its vital services. 8. UNRWA has minimized its services and commitments towards the refugees Question. UNRWA 's policy became a tool in the hands of powerful countries. UNRWA is, therefore, implementing a global political stance; which is totally dominated by a uni-polar power. It, therefore, began neither defending the Palestinian refugees rights nor looking for their living conditions. UNRWA’s Commissioner General clearly stated that the transfer of UNRWA's Headquarters from Vienna into Gaza was done as a preliminary step to terminate UNRWA's services during the transitional period. This Step implies that UNRWA is involved in the international conspiracy towards the refugees question and their right to return. 9. The Refugees Affairs Department should shoulder the responsibility towards the shortcomings and pitfalls that had been committed while looking after the a/m committees. Since PLO is in charge of the Refugees Affairs Department and responsible for all the Palestinian people's issues, it should seek all the possible pathways in order to support UNRWA to sustain the provision of its services until a just comprehensive solution for the refugees issue is attained.


Recommendations: 

UNRWA services should not be exploited as a means of exercising pressure towards any prospected political right. The sustainability of services should not be tied to reaching a just solution for the refugees' issue. As UNRWA is the sole international mechanism dealing with the Palestinian refugees' question, it has to sustain its services till a just and a comprehensive solution of this issue is attained. The donor countries, UN and the European Fund have to back UNRWA's financed in order to revive its entire services in the refugees' camps; together with re-constructing the camps' infrastructure until a comprehensive & just solution for this issue is reached. Calling the PNA not to accept any transfer of UNRWA's jurisdiction and/or to replace UNRWA in its current activities until a comprehensive & a just solution for this issue is achieved. Calling the PNA as a host authority to ask for more fundraising to UNRWA by approaching both the Arab and the donor countries in order to enable UNRWA to revive its entire services for all the refugees. Calling the UN to lead the world; to shoulder its historic responsibilities towards UNRWA and the aim beyond its establishment in 1949; to sustain UNRWA 's neutrality and to evade half solutions that calls for surpassing Resolution 194 and the Palestinian refugees right of return. Calling the refugees masses in Palestine and in the host countries to defy & confront any solution that aims at liquidating UNRWA's operations; and to firmly stand in front of any conspiracy that targets the Refugee's right of return and compensation. Refusing any entity or mechanism to replace UNRWA's role in the camps. On the other hand, UNRWA's activities in health, education, environment and infrastructure have to be sustained.

Host Countries and the Refugees: The Host Countries are the countries that have hosted the Palestinian refugees since the inception of 1948 catastrophe and after the use of force by the Israel to expel the Palestinians from their homelands. The host countries of the Palestinian refugees can be split into two categories  

Countries that hosted the Palestinian and allowed UNRWA to look after the refugees affairs on their territories as: Jordan, Syria & Lebanon Countries that hosted the Palestinians and have not allowed UNRWA to offer its services on their territories since they believe that it is their direct responsibility to look after the refugees as Iraq , Egypt , Libya, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

Palestinian refugees have played significant role in the development of the host countries; particularly in the Arab Gulf States, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. By way of an illustration, Palestinians who worked in all walks of life; particularly in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, contributed a lot in building these States and their fingertips still represent a beacon in every field of work. They even influenced the


political decision of some these countries as in Jordan where Palestinians has actively taken part in its parliament and even its ministerial cabinet. The host countries tried to deal with the Palestinian refugees' issue as a socialwelfare case. Some were really exploited, working hard with low wages. Most Palestinian workers (refugees) were exploited in the Gulf States for many years and after the prosperity of these states Palestinians labor force were expelled under different sorts of pretexts as : Steadfastness, fear of having too much power on the hands of Palestinian communities, or vandalism, or even claiming that Palestinians have different options. The Israeli occupation cannot be considered as a host authority for the Palestinian refugees. The occupation represented oppression, colonialism and settlements. The Occupation has tried its utmost to expel, deport, and immigrate by force more Palestinians outside their homeland. Palestinian camps have suffered a lot from the occupation military machine, its dominance and terrorist programs. Hundreds and thousands of martyrs, detainees & injuries were from the population of refugees. The memory of those people is still vivid until this day. Is the Palestinian National Authority a host authority? Or is it responsible for the refugees file? Or does the international community deal with PNA as a host authority? 1- The PNA is a host authority for the Palestinian refugees. UN resolution 194 clearly stipulates the right of return to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Hereinafter OPT) in 1948 and not to the existing borders of the PNA i.e. the borders of the 4th of June 1967. 2- No one shall exercise any authority on the refugee's decision. The central decision of this question has to be solely taken by the refugees and the refugees only. 3- The international community is not dealing with the PNA as a host authority. On the other hand, it addresses the refugees' issue in accordance with the UN resolution 194 where the Palestinian right of return is guaranteed. 4- Having any other nationality does not mean that the historical and political rights of the Palestinian refugees have been secured by the international legitimacy are to be overlooked. 5- Refugees’ sufferings were not confined to the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it exceeded these boundaries. They managed to impose a siege on the refugees in the host countries to minimize the refugees’ activities; and to lessen their ability to engage in the local community of the host States. The aim beyond imposing a siege on the camps in the host countries is to make the camps abide by the official policy of the host and subsequently not to mobilize the endeavor towards the right of return.


6- Upgrading the living conditions and the humanistic circumstances in the Palestinian camps is a Palestinian right; along with upgrading the infrastructure either in the PNA areas and its camps or in Lebanon, Syria or Jordan. Refugees should not be deprived, by any case, from their right of return form the host countries. It is worth noting that the refugees in the host countries still consider themselves in a temporary state of residence till they accomplish their return to the areas that they had been expelled from. Recommendations: 1- Arab states have to shoulder their responsibilities toward the Palestinian refugees national question not only at the Arab international level but also at the humanitarian level. 2- The Arab hosting countries of the Palestinian refugees have to rule out the possibility of solving this question by either settling or assimilating those refugees in their Arab communities or by compensating them financially. On the contrary, the host countries have to smoothly seek to exercise a pressure on the international community so as to implement the UN legitimate resolutions with respect to the Palestinian refugees. 3- The Arab hosting states have to treat their Palestinian refugees as first not as third class citizens who must have their rights and should carry out their duties and responsibilities as any other Arab citizen. This should be the case till the refugee issue achieves its just and comprehensive solution; in accordance with the UN legitimate resolutions. 4- The refugee’s issue should not be fragmented. It should be dealt with as one entity whether the refugees are in Jordan, Syria or Lebanon. 5- Asking the international Community to provide an international security to the Palestinian camps in the host countries until a just and comprehensive solution of this issue is achieved. 6- Asking the PNA, as a host authority of the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to treat the refugees and their citizens on equal footing; and to cater for the camps' affairs. Moreover, the PNA ought to upgrade the current infrastructure of the camps as it does in the other parts (cities & villages) of Palestine. These procedures have to be undertaken until the refugees receive their right of return. 7- UNRWA is responsible for shouldering its duties towards the refugees in the host countries by providing them with all the needed services. Negotiations and Peoples Perspective:  Palestinian negotiators are stuck. No progress whatsoever has been noticed in the refugees' file. Moreover, this file has been transferred to the final stage of negotiations.


 Large sectors of the refugees, irrespective of the location of their camp, do not feel that the Palestinian negotiators are competent enough to handle their delicate issue. Refugees have also mentioned that declarations were made by some of the PNA security heads and by a number of key officials who have been directly involved in the negotiations process, have clearly suggested semi-solutions for the refugees' issue. Such partial solutions are tied with the American and Israeli proposals that mainly aim at hypnotizing the Palestinian street to accept the status quo formula. The Palestinian negotiator's reference, base, qualification and readiness: Refugees believe that the Palestinian negotiator, who handles their file, as: 

An Oriental who is totally detached and utterly not aware of the particularities of the refugees' issue.

A person who does not rely on clear statistics and vivid documents about the number of villages and cities that refugee had been forced to leave in 1948.

A defeated person who doesn't look forward to achieving the right of return in accordance with the UN Resolution 194. On the contrary, his/her main reference is based on UN Resolution 242 that does not address the refugee's issue properly.

A negotiator who doesn’t base his/her reference on the demands of the refugees’ masses.

A negotiator who’s principal concern and main reference is the unjust Oslo Agreement.

All the entities and organizations that are entitled to assist refugees in their predicament such as the Higher Council of Refugees; the Higher Body of Refugees; the Refugee Affairs' Department, and the Refugees' Defense Committees are totally paralyzed. They only play a parliamentarian role; without representing the political, social, legal and cultural aspects' of the refugees. It is also worth realizing that the officials and the directors of these organizations were appointed and not elected. Their opinions, therefore, should represent themselves and not the refugee masses in the homeland or in the Diaspora. Recommendations: 

Arab states have to bear their, responsibilities toward the refugees' issue at an Arab, international and humanitarian levels, since this cause is a national one.

The Palestinian negotiators have to deal with the masses of refugees and their cause in a clear & transparent way. S/he also ought not to make agreements that are not in line with the UN legitimate resolutions; and should try to evade using flowery, tricky and ambiguous language when addressing the refugee issue.


The Palestinian negotiators have to adhere to the refugees' national fundamental demands that secure the right of self-determination and the right of return to the borders of 1948.

The refugee members in the Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PNA civil and security bodies have to unify their endeavors towards achieving the right of return and have to firmly stand in front of any attempt to make concessions in this right.

Mobilizing and unifying the efforts of people and working associations at the refugee camps to turn down any conspiracy that targets the right of return.

Calling the refugee masses in Palestine, Jordan, Syria & Lebanon to convene conferences, seminars and marches in order to oblige the international community to implement UN Resolution 194 that guarantees the right of return. Israel has to implement this decision exactly in the same way its withdrew from South Lebanon.

Stressing the fact that all the bodies and organizations that try to act on behalf of the refugees have no right to represent them as they are not elected from the refugees' masses.

Appealing to the Palestinian President to put an end to the declarations of the PNA officials and high ranking security officers, that not only undermine the refugees ' right of return, but also go in line with the American / Israeli plan that calls for the return of some refugees to the borders of the 4 th of June1967.

International Resolutions on the Refugees' Issue: 1. UN Resolution 194 from 11 - December -1948, clearly stipulates in its paragraph Number.11 that the refugees who are interested to go back to their homes, provided that they live peacefully with their neighbors, should be allowed to do so. Those who decide not to return have to be compensated for their property that they decided not return to. This is clear and not subject to any other interpretations. By the provisions of this resolution Palestinian refugees have the right to return and are subject to two types of compensations which are ; namely: 

Compensation for the use and investment in the Palestinian property for more than fifty years since the establishment of the State of Israel.

Compensation for the suffering of the Palestinian refugees that mainly stemmed from the ignorance of the international community to its humanitarian cause.

Since 1949 till this day, the different UN bodies have ratified Resolution (#194) more than 110 times. The United States was the only country that suspended its vote on this resolution in the last 6 times; though it had voted for it in all the previous times. It is, therefore, worth highlighting that the US has promoted the idea of compensation instead of the right of return. The Palestinian refugees reject this notion.


Security Council resolutions 237 from 14 June 1967, in its 1 st paragraph urges Israel to provide safety and security for the inhabitants of the areas that had witnessed military operations; and to facilitate the return of those who had fled away from these areas as a result of the war. Security Council Resolution 242 from 22 November 1967, called for the Security Council to achieve a just settlement for the Palestinian refugees' problem. The version of this resolution offers a wider framework for solving the Palestinian refugee question in 1967 and 1948 since it did not specify a comprehensive time frame for the solving the Palestinian refugees' question . The Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 says that in accordance with article 4 of this convention, that stipulates that any expulsion from the occupied territories to the territories of an occupier state or to the territories of any occupied or unoccupied state; irrespective of its causes, entitle the expellees to have the right to return to their homeland as soon as the invasion acts cease. UN General Assembly Resolution No. 3236, 22 November 1974 stipulates in that the Palestinian refugees shall have the right of return to their homes and properties that had been expelled from. The international legitimacy is represented by a set of decisions that have been issued by the Security Council or by the United Nations; with respect to the Palestinian refugees' question. The world is controlled by a uni-polar policy i.e. the American policy that is categorically biased and works in favor of Israel. Convening an international conference of peace where all the countries and bodies that had been directly affected from the Israeli occupation outcomes in 1948, 1967, 1973 and 1982 shall take part can embody the international legitimacy. This conference is to be based on all UN Security Council resolutions. The deviation from the UN legitimate resolutions has begun since the inception of Madrid conference where PLO was marginalized by accepting to take part under the auspices of the Jordanian delegation. The PLO has been the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The Madrid conference was not based on the UN Resolution 194 that directly addressed the refugees’ question. The Oslo agreement is considered an incomplete agreement since it lacks the international legitimacy as a reference; and since it had not received a full international concern. Any peace treaty that overlooks the refugees' right of return to their territories that had been occupied in 1948 shall be doomed by complete failure. There shall not be peace unless refugees receive their right to go back to their homes. UN Resolutions 242 and 338 shall not be considered the bases for securing a just solution since they do not clearly address the refugee issue. UN Resolution 194 represents the minimal demand that the Palestinian refugees have accepted in order to solve their issue.


Recommendations: 1. The Palestinian refugees' question should not be based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 since they are too general and vague in terms of the particularities of solving this issue fairly & squarely. 2. The Palestinian negotiators have to turn down any proposal that calls for the cancellation of the UN Resolutions because of the time element. 3. The UN Resolutions that deal with the Palestinian refugee questions must not be fragmented. There should be an adherence to all the international resolutions. 4. Dealing with a uni-polar policy should be avoided. Circumventing international legitimacy must not be accepted. 5. UN Resolution 242 should not be the only reference for any possible settlement of the refugees' issue. 6. The minimal demand for any settlement of the refugee question should be the UN Resolution 194. 7.

Obliging the Palestinian negotiators to adhere to UN Resolution 194 by mobilizing the refugee masses in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Moreover, refugees have to exercise their pressure on the international community, the Security Council, and the United Nations in order to urge them to shoulder their historic, moral, and humanitarian responsibilities towards the Palestinian refugees' question.

8. Calling for the direct implementation of UN Resolution 237 that was issued in 1967, which stipulates that all the Palestinian expellees, as a result of the Israeli invasion in 1967, have the right of return. This issue should have been resolved in the transitional stage of the negotiation process. 9. Stressing the fact that the refugees of 1948 and the expellees of 1967 are one entity. Israel has always tried to differentiate between those two categories. It is recommended that Palestinians have to accept the return of the expellees during the transitional period of negotiation as the provisions of Oslo agreement stipulate. 10. The 1967 expellees right of return to the PNA territories does not diminish their right to go back to their homes in the OPT in 1948 since the catastrophe sufferings can not be abolished retroactively i.e. by the course of time. 11. Emphasizing the unity of the Palestinian people whether they are inside or outside the PNA ought to be highlighted. Building a supporting public opinion for the Palestinians of 1948 since they had also been moved force from their original villages, cities and homes; and should have the right of return to their properties.


12. Israeli allegations about the demographic hazards have to be countered. There should be an emphasis that the right of return is not only legal but also historic. 13. Some of the Arab host countries issued a number of procedures that mainly aimed at facilitating the Palestinian refugees means of living. These procedures should not be considered a substitute of the refugees' right of return and compensation. Such procedures could be a preliminary step towards implementing the conspiracy of settling the refugees in these countries. 14. The Palestinian refugees, who reside in the PNA territories, ought to be considered as visitors until they gain their right to return that had been uprooted from in 1948.

Democratizing the Refugee Issue  

During 2000, IPCRI convened 48 Town-Hall Meetings in 9 different refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. In all, hundreds of refugees took...

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