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"Palestinians and World Refugee Day"

by Leonard Windsor, Esq. Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 9:28 AM

Palestinian refugees constitute one of the largest refugee populations in the world and the longest standing unresolved situation of displacement.

By Samar Assad

View this online at http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/images/informationbrief.php?ID=164.

Overview: In 2000, the United Nations adopted a resolution that designated June 20 as World Refugee Day. Of the 20.8 million refugees world-wide, or "people of concern" as categorized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Palestinian refugees constitute one of the largest refugee populations in the world and the longest standing unresolved situation of displacement.

Palestinian Refugees

According to the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, approximately 800,000 Christian and Muslim Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee their homes in Palestine prior to, during and after the 1948 war that created a Jewish homeland in Palestine. These original refugees made up 75 percent of the Arab population of what became Israel. They are referred to as the "1948 refugees."

When Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, the UN reported that approximately 200,000 Palestinians fled their homes. They and their descendents are referred to as the "1967 displaced persons." Approximately 95,000 of the 1948 refugees became second-time refuges in 1967.

Today, the original refugees and their descendents are estimated to number more than 6.5 million. According to BADIL, the Palestinian Resource Center for Residency and Refugees' Rights, the 6.5 million refugees consist of:

1. 4.3 million 1948 refugees who are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). According to UNRWA, one-third, or 1.3 million of the registered Palestinian refugees live in 59 U.N.-run camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Two-thirds live in and around the cities of host countries and in the West Bank and Gaza;

2. 1.5 million 1948 refugees who are not registered by UNRWA;

3. 773,000 persons displaced in 1967; and

4. 263,000 internally displaced refugees (IDRs). This term, IDR, applies to Palestinians who left their homes in 1948 but remained within the borders of what became Israel. According to BADIL's statistics, approximately 32,000 Palestinians became internally displaced in 1948. Despite the fact that they are Israeli citizens, Israel never allowed them to return to their homes or villages which were either given to Jews or demolished.

Right of Return

During a July 2005 Palestine Center symposium, Susan Akram, associate professor of law at Boston University, explained that the legal basis for a refugee's Right of Return (ROR) is established in three main bodies of law: the law of nationality and state succession, human rights law, and humanitarian law. In all three, ROR, is both a "rule of customary international law and codified international treaties." According to Akram, Israel as the state entity responsible for creating the Palestinian refugees, is thus held responsible for the implementation of Palestinians' ROR.

Palestinians' ROR is spelled out under international law through the following documents.

1. U.N. Resolution 194 (passed 11 December 1948), which states "the [Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights [Article 13(2)], which states "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country."

3. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [Article 5 (d)(ii)], which states that "State parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination on all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of...the right to leave any country, including one's own, and to return to one's country."

4. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights [Article 12(4)], which states that "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country."

Israel and the Right of Return

Despite what international law articulates with respect to the rights of Palestinian refugees, Israel, which defines itself as a Jewish state, refuses to abide by international consensus.

At the 2000 US-sponsored Camp David Summit, Israel refused to discuss the refugee issue. Israeli officials argued that Israel did not cause the Palestinian refugee problem and thus was not responsible for its resolution. Israel continues to disregard Palestinians' ROR, claiming that it threatens Israel's "Jewish character."

Samar Assad is the Executive Director of The Palestine Center. This information brief may be used without permission but with proper attribution to the Center. The above text does not necessarily reflect the views of The Jerusalem Fund.

Take Action, sign up for http://www.cnionline.org political action alerts and tell Congress to stop using your tax dollars to support Israeli apartheid terrorism.

For further political action and information see http://www.endtheoccupation.org/ and http://www.cflweb.org/ and http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/ and http://www.voicesofpalestine.org/

Please copy, e-mail and distribute this as widely as possible.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 65 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
SchtarkerYid Palestinian propaganda and sympathy orchestra Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 1:29 PM
Two sides: the oppressors and the oppressed imagine Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 1:42 PM
"thugs" translation Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 1:49 PM
SchtarkerYid Actually THATS WHAT HAPPENED Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 1:59 PM
facinating material about the right to return Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 2:06 PM
"Jews expelled from Arab lands " not an excuse Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 2:12 PM
SchtarkerYid thats just changing the subject Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 2:35 PM
"Its the Arab-Israeli conflict, not the Israeli -Palestinian conflict" wrong Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 2:46 PM
on topic and not addressed Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 2:57 PM
Not to worry, 'nessie' will always debunk himself Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 3:48 PM
Hey, SJ Tia Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 3:54 PM
Tzaharayim Tovim (good noon) Tia Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 4:11 PM
Contempt and NO chips Ahoy? Tia Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 4:15 PM
Staying in Berkeley Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 4:24 PM
SchtarkerYid Myth of the centrality of .... Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 4:49 PM
END WELFARE FOR ISRAEL Zionism = Racism Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 1:05 AM
And speaking of racism, pointer Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 1:17 AM
Not reported because its not true Tia Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 1:18 AM
More refutations Scapegoated Jew Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 1:51 AM
Watch Zionists learning how to create more effective propaganda. pointer Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 1:56 AM
Like every other tribe, Jews are a mixed bunch. judge them one at a time Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 12:00 PM
Judge Jury and executioner Tia Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 12:11 PM
awesome, i'm evil charismatic megafauna Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 12:25 PM
Awww Thanks, Megafauna Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 12:29 PM
"Tia, check your email, I passed something on from a certain someone." hypocrites Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 3:01 PM
Just hilarious tripe Scapegoated Jew Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 3:13 PM
SchtarkerYid no one ever said that Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 3:14 PM
Another Zionist lie there they go again Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 3:34 PM
really simple gehrig Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 6:24 PM
The Truth about Arab Refugees in 1948 Becky Johnson Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 6:47 PM
Culled from the Meir-Levi article Becky Johnson Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 7:12 PM
"by another Zionist lie Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 5:09 PM " heard it before Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 9:48 PM
"You're called an antisemite -- at least by me -- because you are one." another Zionist lie Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:05 PM
"another Zionist lie " bunk logic Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:13 PM
"Gehrig has provided ample evidence of nessie's anti-Semitism." another Zionist lie Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:16 PM
Evidence of Nessie's anti-semitism an impartial observer (Tia) Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:19 PM
I'll add another Scapegoated Jew Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:24 PM
Unsubstantiated allegations are not evidence more Zionist lies Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:47 PM
You're wasting bandwidth in despair Scapegoated Jew Saturday, Jun. 24, 2006 at 11:57 PM
"You . . . you've . . . your" see what I mean? Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 12:04 AM
"An ad hominem is not a rebuttal" bunk logic Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 12:08 AM
"by bunk logic Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 8:08 PM" there they go again Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 12:09 AM
"by there they go again Friday, Jun. 23, 2006 at 8:09 PM" boring Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 12:16 AM
get a clue, nessie gehrig Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 12:19 AM
Alert: Shameless Zionist infomercial follows Tia Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 12:35 AM
"Israeli doctors are closing in on a vaccine for cervical cancer." history buff Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 2:04 PM
good and evil on a Saturday morning, over coffee Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 2:25 PM
"The Palestinians chose the path of war." another Zionist lie Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 2:31 PM
"The Palestinians chose the path of self defense against a foreign invader" another anti-Zionist lie Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 2:38 PM
"the Hutus did when they craved mass violence against the Tutsis." how typical Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 2:53 PM
Back to the original article Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 3:14 PM
"So what? The Nazis did a lot of good, too" history buff Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 4:18 PM
There they go again see what i mean? Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 4:56 PM
SchtarkerYid Nesse droppings stunt another thread Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 9:03 PM

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