Issue No.
121, May 2008 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
  Today's Events
   Sat. May 27, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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       Articles
Artwork by Ismail Shammout
Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Jordan. UNRWA archive
Palestinian Refugee Camp, 1949. UNRWA archive
Ein Al Hilwe, Lebanon 1996 (Tineke d'Haese, Oxfam-Solidarité)
Artwork by Mustafa Al Hallaj
Bisan 1937. PalestineRemembered.com
Flight over the wall. Photo by Giorgio Palmera
College De Freres, Jerusalem, 1930s
Shatila Refugee camp, Lebanon, 1999 Badil
Baq’a refugee camp, Jordan. UNRWA archive
Palestinian children, 1930s
Artwork by Tayseer Batniji
A Pioneering women photographer from Nazareth
Mieh Mieh Refugee Camp, Lebanon. UNRWA archive
Palestinian Refugee Displacement, Ramleh, 1948. UNRWA archive
Artwork by Nabil Anani
The Village of Hittin, 1934. PalestineRemembered.com
Beer al Sabe’
Generations of Palestinian Refugees, 1980s. UNRWA archive
Tiberias,1945. PalestineRemembered.com
Rafah Refugee Camp, Gaza. UNRWA archive
Dheisheh Refugee Camp. UNRWA archive

The Nakba – 60 Years of Dignity and Justice Denied
By Ingrid Jaradat Gassner and Hazem Jamjoum

At the beginning of the 20th century, most Palestinians lived inside the borders of Palestine, which is now divided into Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. At that time, Palestine was one of several Arab territories that were part of the Ottoman Empire, and the indigenous Arab population aspired for independence and sovereignty.

There was good reason for optimism because the British High Commissioner in Egypt had promised that Britain would support Arab independence in exchange for support of the Allied war effort to bring down the Ottoman regime (MacMahon-Hussein correspondence),i and US President Woodrow Wilson had announced his doctrine of self-determination for the post-World War I order.ii Moreover, the victorious states of the First World War appeared to abide by these promises. The Anglo-French Declaration (1918), for example, stated that the goal was


“...the complete and final liberation of the peoples who have for so long been oppressed by the Turks, and the setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations.”


This and the doctrine of self-determination were subsequently enshrined in the Covenant of the League of Nations (1919).iii In 1919, the Allied Powers members of the League of Nations decided to establish a temporary “Mandate System” in accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations to facilitate the independence of these territories. The August 1920 Treaty of Sèvres between the Allied Powers and Turkey affirmed that Palestine


“be provisionally recognised as an independent State subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.iv


Some 25 years later, however, the Palestinian people had lost Palestine. By the time the first Arab-Israeli war ended in 1949 with cease-fire agreements between Israel and Arab states, more than 500 Palestinian villages, with a land base of more than 17,000 km2, were depopulated.v In total, 750,000 - 900,000 Palestinians, representing half of the pre-war Arab population of Palestine or 85 percent of those in the territory that became the state of Israel, were displaced.vi Most of them became refugees; of the roughly 150,000 Palestinians who remained in those parts of Palestine that became the state of Israel on 14 May 1948, approximately 30,000 were internally displaced persons. An estimated two-thirds of Palestinian refugee homes inside the new state of Israel were destroyed; the remaining third were expropriated and occupied by Jewish settlers.vii Israel had effective control over 78 percent of British Mandate Palestine, including areas that had been allocated to the Arab state under the 1947 UN partition plan.


On 11 May 1949, the UN General Assembly approved Israel’s membership in the United Nations without conditions. For the purpose of the United Nations and its dominant member states, Palestine and the Palestinian people had disappeared. “They had become an indistinct mass of refugees - not a nation, not a political entity, only a problem, and not a major one at that.”viii


This is what Palestinians refer to as Al-Nakba, meaning The Catastrophe.


The idea of transferring the indigenous population out of the country had played a key role in political Zionism from its early days, simply because most Palestinian Arabs were unwilling to part with their land and resisted Zionist colonisation.ix The Zionist movement and its colony in Palestine, however, did not have the power to acquire territory by force and implement a massive forced population transfer until late 1947, when both were made possible for the first time with the support of the international community (see Box 1).


“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”


(Theodor Herzl, Diaries)


“If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true. But two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see only one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”


(David Ben-Gurion to Nahum Goldmann,
president of the World Jewish Congressxi)


Box 1


The Role of the International Community in Causing the Nakba

World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France


World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France



World War I - 1947: Setting the stage for Zionist colonisation and armed conflict in Palestine


1916 - Britain and France


sign a secret understanding (Sykes-Picot Agreement) in which they define their respective spheres of influence and control in West Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Palestine is reserved for British control under this agreement.


1917 - Britain


endorses the Balfour Declaration as a means to advance its interests in the region. The one-page letter from Arthur Balfour, British Secretary of Foreign Affairs, to Lord Rothschild, head of the British Zionist Federation, grants recognition of and support for the idea of establishing a Jewish “national home” in Palestine through immigration and colonisation.


1919 to 1920 - Allied Powers and the League of Nations:


States, winners of the First World War, entrust the temporary administration (“Mandate”) of Palestine to Britain, irrespective of the strong Arab opposition. The British foreign secretary had insisted:


“In the case of the ‘independent nation’ of Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country. Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”xii


1923 to 1947 - The British Mandate regime

1923 to 1947 - The British Mandate regime

is engaged in the contradictory mission of leading Palestine to independence and, at the same time, facilitating Zionist colonisation.


• Full political rights are afforded to the Zionist colony in Palestine, whereas only civil and religious rights are granted to the Palestinian Arab majority.xiii


• New land and citizenship laws facilitate Zionist immigration and colonisation. Already in the 1930s, the British administration grapples with a new phenomenon of landless peasants, and by the early 1940s, the average rural Palestinian Arab family has less than half of the agricultural land required for its subsistence.


• British Mandate authorities suppressed a series of Palestinian uprisings, including the “Great Revolt” (1936-1939), through military and administrative means, weakening Palestinian resistance. Palestinian Arab leaders are arrested, jailed, and deported, and thousands of Palestinian Arab homes are demolished. Some 40,000 Palestinian Arabs flee the country during the mid-1930s alone. Palestinian uprisings are suppressed in cooperation with Zionist militias that are trained and armed for this purpose.


• From the late-1930s onwards, British efforts fail to appease Arab-Palestinian resistance by slowing down the rate of Jewish immigration mainly because many Western states support and facilitate the resettlement in Palestine of displaced European Jews. Resettlement of Jewish refugees in Palestine is facilitated in violation of international commitments not to resettle displaced persons in non-self-governing territories without the consent of the indigenous population. At the same time, most Western countries, including the United States, refuse to admit Jewish refugees, despite the knowledge of Nazi persecution and atrocities.


1947-1949: Sanctioning Zionist colonisation and Israel’s population transfer


The United Nations


takes up the “Question of Palestine” in 1947. By that time, new international legal norms, such as the prohibition of acquisition of territory by force and the right of people to self-determination, had become binding for states. In the case of Palestine, however:


• requests by Arab states to discuss the independence of Palestine as a possible option are rejected, as well as requests for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning the legal status of Palestine and the authority of the United Nations to issue and enforce recommendations. The UN General Assembly rather appoints a special committee (UNSCOP) to formulate recommendationsxvi concerning the future status of the country.


• UNSCOP is unable to reach a consensus: the majority supports the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and the other Jewish, although they concede that


“[w]ith regard to the principle of self-determination, [...] it was not applied to Palestine, obviously because of the intention to make possible the creation of a Jewish National Home there. Actually, it may well be said that the Jewish National Home and the sui generis Mandate for Palestine run counter to that principle.” xvii


The UNSCOP minority proposes one federal state for Arabs and Jews and is adamant in its prescient warnings of the consequences of partition:


“Future peace and order in Palestine and the Near East generally will be vitally affected by the nature of the solution decided upon for the Palestine question. In this regard, it is important to avoid an acceleration of the separatism which now characterises the relations of Arabs and Jews in the Near East, and to avoid laying the foundations of a dangerous irredentism there, which would be the inevitable consequences of partition in whatever form. […] Partition both in principle and in substance can only be regarded as an anti-Arab solution. The Federal State, however, cannot be described as an anti-Jewish solution. To the contrary, it will best serve the interests of both Arabs and Jews.” xviii


29 November 1947 - the UN General Assembly


adopts Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, and an international regime for Jerusalem, against the express wishes of the indigenous population and states in the region. Although Jews constitute less than one-third of the population and own no more than 7 percent of the land, the proposed Jewish state is allotted 56 percent of Palestine; almost half of the population of the proposed Jewish state consists of Palestinian Arabs.


Britain and the United Nations


fail to protect Palestinians during subsequent armed conflict: some 300,000 are forcibly displaced by Zionist forces while Palestine is still under the British Mandate regime (November 1947-14 May 1948). Some 500,000 more are displaced during the subsequent first Arab-Israeli war (15 May 1948- 20 July 1949).


11 May 1949 - the UN General Assembly


resolves that “Israel is a peace-loving State which accepts the obligations contained in the Charter and is able and willing to carry out those obligations.” It approves Israel’s membership in the United Nations without conditions, a step which prejudices parallel UN-led efforts for refugee return and a peace agreement between Israel and Arab states.


End of Box 1




1949-2008: the “ongoing Nakba


Palestinians reasserted themselves as a people after another quarter-century of resilience and struggle. Since the 1970s, the United Nations has reaffirmed that Palestinians are a nation entitled to self-determination, independence, and refugee return,xix but the lack of accountability has remained. Failure to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people explains why, 60 years later, the Palestinian refugee question has remained unresolved, while Israel continues to occupy and colonise Palestinian land and displace Palestinians with impunity. Two of the hundreds of examples of ongoing displacement are Kafr Bir’im and Al-Wallajeh.


Case Studies


The Story of Kafr Bir’im (Upper Galilee) - Empty Promises


On 29 October 1948, Israel began a new military campaign that was code-named “Hiram” and whose goal was to occupy Arab villages in the Upper Galilee. According to Israeli estimates, there were 50,000 to 60,000 Palestinians in this area before the operation, and only 12,000 to 15,000 remaining afterwards.


The 1,050 villagers of Kafr Bir’im were among those forced out of their homes two weeks after the Israeli occupation of the village. Officer Emmanuel Friedman told the villagers on 13 November that they were “in danger” and must leave. He told them that their evacuation was temporary, to last only two weeks, and asked for the keys to their homes, promising that the villagers would be allowed back once the danger subsided. Most of the villagers took refuge in nearby caves and fields rather than move across the border to Lebanon as they had been instructed. When the two-week period was over, Israeli officials continued to promise the villagers that they would be allowed to return.


Three months after the villagers were moved out, Israeli patrols arrested 65 people working in the area, despite their valid permits, and deported them to the West Bank, which was under Jordanian control. Then, in June 1949, a group of Jewish settlers occupied homes in Kafr Bir’im, heralding the establishment of Kibbutz Bar’am. Village leaders wrote to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion but were told, “It is not currently possible to permit the return of the people of Kafr Bir’im to their village.”


When the villagers realised that the Israeli military authorities were not going to fulfil their promise, they launched a protracted legal and political battle to return to their land, taking their case to the Israeli Supreme Court and the Knesset. In January 1952, the court issued a decision in which it recognised the villagers’ right to return to their village with the permission of the military governor. This permission has never been granted. In an attempt to ensure that Bir’im’s villagers would not return, the Israeli air force bombed the village in 1953, destroying all its buildings except the church and school.


In 1965, the site of the village was converted into an Israeli national park, nature reserve, and tourist centre marking an ancient Jewish village, with no mention of the later Palestinian Christian village whose ruins remain visible. Today, more than 2,000 displaced inhabitants of Kafr Bir’im and their descendents are citizens of Israel, while hundreds of others live in North America, Europe, and refugee camps in Beirut and southern Lebanon. Those who have remained continue the struggle for return, organising regular activities that bring the villagers to the site of Kafr Bir’im to teach the younger generations about their destroyed village and their right to return there.


For more on Kafr Bir’im, see Badil’s 2006 publication: Returning to Kafr Bir’im at http://www.badil.org/Publications/Books/birim.pdf.


Al-Wallajeh (Jerusalem) - A Story of Multiple Displacement


On 21 October 1948, nearly all the homes of Wallajeh, located in the district of Jerusalem, were demolished by the Israeli army. Most of the residents were forced to flee to refugee camps in the West Bank and Jordan, where they number 12,500 today. More than two-thirds of the village lands were annexed to Israel, inaccessible to the villagers themselves.


Between the wars of 1948 and 1967, many of the villagers had set up temporary housing, living in caves or makeshift structures until, realising that it may take a long time before they would be allowed to return, they rebuilt homes on the village lands that had remained in the West Bank under Jordanian rule. In 1967, after Israel occupied the West Bank, including the new Wallajeh and nearby Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, it became very difficult to obtain building permits in Wallajeh. Homes built after 1967 without permits were now subject to Israeli demolition proceedings.


Further, in a bizarre twist, Israeli government surveyors who mapped the occupied West Bank lands that were slated for annexation to Israel unwittingly included the Ein Juweiza neighbourhood of Lower Wallajeh. The move was not made public until 1981, when Israel’s Jerusalem municipality was “correctly” placed in charge of demolishing “illegally-built” Wallajeh homes. For more than 14 years, these residents with West Bank identity cards had no idea that they were living within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, since the Israeli municipality had provided no new schools, utilities, or services to the growing population.


Meanwhile, Wallajeh’s land was coveted. Its springs, fields, and olive trees had been eaten up by the Biblical Zoo, Jewish settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo, and the Teddy Kolleck Stadium. Israeli municipal authorities have asked Ein Juweiza residents, who comprise about half of Wallajeh, to sign a document recognising that their homes are in eastern Jerusalem, and that they, holders of West Bank IDs, are residing there illegally. Moreover, Israeli soldiers commonly arrest and fine Wallajeh residents while in their homes for entering Jerusalem without the proper papers.


In 2004, Israeli city officials announced a new plan to construct Giv’at Yael, a settlement planned to house more than 55,000 Jewish residents, on the lands of Wallajeh and nearby Palestinian communities. In addition to the 49,000 dunums taken from the villagers in 1948, an additional 7,000 dunums have been confiscated for the settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo, 1,000 dunums have been confiscated for Israeli by-pass roads, and approximately 4,000 dunums have been confiscated for the Wall and settlement expansion. The houses on the remaining 3,000 or so dunums of Wallajeh are under constant threat of demolition; 50 homes have already been destroyed by Israeli authorities, and 86 cases of demolition orders are currently being examined by the Israeli courts. The small Palestinian community is now completely encircled by Jewish settlements and the Wall, enabling the Israeli army to imprison its residents simply by closing down the one remaining access road.


The Right-of-Return Movement Today


Today, 60 years into the Palestinian Nakba, almost 75 percent of the Palestinian people are displaced, and Palestinian refugees present the world’s largest and longest-standing unresolved refugee case. Approximately half of the Palestinian people live in forced exile outside their homeland, while another 23 percent are displaced within the borders of former Palestine.xxi Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons still lack access to durable solutions and reparations, including return, restitution, and compensation, in accordance with international law and UN resolutions (see Box 2). Although more Palestinians are being displaced today in Israel, the OPT, Iraq, and elsewhere, effective protection is still not available for them. Rather than holding Israel to account, the international community has imposed sanctions against the occupied Palestinians since 2006. The results are more political and geographic fragmentation of the Palestinian people and unprecedented humanitarian crises, in particular in the occupied Gaza Strip - where 70 percent of the population are Palestinian refugees of the Nakba of 1948.


The return of the refugees and the reclamation of Palestine were the central goals of the Palestinian liberation movement from its inception following the Nakba. As with most other national liberation movements, armed struggle defined the strategy and tactics used by the movement to attain these goals. It is particularly important to recognise that the main arenas of the movement’s activity were countries like Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon, and as such the overwhelming majority of rank-and-file activists as well as the movement’s leadership were made up of first-generation refugees who had themselves been forcibly displaced by the Nakba.


As the movement grew in size and strength - particularly after the 1967 war - with the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), added emphasis was placed on the diplomatic aspect of the struggle. The PLO looked to international legal norms as an avenue for garnering support and achieving victories in the struggle for the return of the refugees. By the early 1990s, with the demise of the Soviet Union, the US-led victory in the Kuwait War, and the continually deteriorating situation of Palestinians in Palestine and Lebanon, the diplomatic avenue appeared to the PLO leadership as the only viable path to achieving the implementation of Palestinian rights; a path that led to the Madrid-Oslo agreements.


Palestinian right-of-return activists immediately recognised the Oslo Agreement, and its subsequent peace process, as one which sidelined refugee rights. The agreement itself made no mention of Palestinian refugees, except insofar as it postponed discussion of the issue to future “final status negotiations.” As a result, the peace process effectively legitimised Israel’s division of the Palestinian people into Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (including those internally displaced); Palestinian refugees living in exile facing varying forms of discrimination depending on their host country; and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza (including more than 1.3 million refugees). The PLO itself was effectively hollowed out into the newly established Palestinian National Authority, which has no mechanism for representing the Palestinian refugees outside of the West Bank and Gaza and, as such, is not accountable to them.


It is in this context that grassroots initiatives calling for the centrality of refugee rights began to emerge in the post-Oslo period. In 1995, activists organised the first Right of Return Popular Conference, which was convened opposite the Al-Fara’a Refugee Camp at an abandoned Israeli military detention centre, and brought together 1,500 people to discuss ways to build the right-of-return movement. Between 1996 and 2000, similar popular conferences were organised in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Gaza, Beirut, Copenhagen, Berlin, Washington, DC, Vancouver, and London. During this period, many people in Palestine and around the world had mistakenly believed that the peace process would bring a just and durable solution for the people of Palestine and, as a result, initially opposed highlighting the plight of Palestinian refugees for fear of disrupting this process.


A major change occurred with the failure of the peace talks and the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000. By then, the failure of the peace process had become obvious to all who cared to examine the issue. As Israel began the construction of its Separation Wall, it became much clearer that any future peace could only be brought about by dealing with the core issues of the conflict, foremost among them the rights of the Palestinian refugees. As the Intifada progressed, the budding refugee-rights movements made up of Palestinian refugees and their allies began to bear fruit in the form of right-of-return coalitions, notably in Europe and North America.


A major landmark in today’s right-of-return movement was the July 2005 Palestinian civil society call for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign directed at the Israeli state, with one of the three central demands of the campaign being the implementation of the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. This campaign has rapidly grown across the globe, with a growing list of unions, churches, and civil society institutions passing and implementing BDS resolutions, highlighting the centrality of the return of the refugees.


In this context, the Nakba continues for Palestinians, and so does their struggle for dignity and justice. Both continue to shape Palestinian identity from generation to generation, in the homeland and in exile.


Box 2


The rights of displaced Palestinians and state obligations in international law

UN General Assembly Resolution 194, Article 11


 (11 December 1948) resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours 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 [...].”

UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN General Assembly Resolution 194, Article 11


 (11 December 1948) resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours 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 [...].”

UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.



UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (11 December 1948) resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours 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 [...].”

UN Security Council Resolution 237


(14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.


 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.

 (14 June 1967) calls for the return of all who had fled as a result of the 1967 War.

These UN resolutions and the rights of displaced Palestinians are grounded in numerous international law instruments, including:


Human Rights Law -


Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 


Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law (Article 8).


Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13).


The obligations of states to protect these rights are elaborated, among others, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 2(3), 12) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Articles 5, 6).


Humanitarian Law -


Fourth Geneva Convention





• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).





• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).






• Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. If persons have to be evacuated for reasons of security or imperative military necessity, such persons shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased (from Article 49).



• Signatory states and parties to the conflict shall facilitate in every possible way the reunion of families dispersed as a result of armed conflicts [...] (Additional Protocol 1, Article 74).


Law of Nations


Articles on Nationality/State Succession


The status of persons shall not be affected by the succession of states; they are presumed to acquire the nationality of the successor state. States shall take all necessary measures to allow persons who, because of events connected with the succession of states, were forced to leave their habitual residence on its territory to return thereto (from Articles 5, 14).


Law of State Responsibility -


UN Guiding Principles on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation


Victims of gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law should be provided with full and effective reparation, including return, restitution of legal status and property, compensation, rehabilitation, and satisfaction.


Criminal Law -


Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)


Deportation or forcible transfer of population without grounds permitted under international law constitutes a crime against humanity (Article 75 (1)) and a war crime (Article 8 (2b) (viii)).


In practise, the international community has established three durable solutions for resolving refugee crises worldwide: repatriation (i.e., return, the only solution that is a fundamental right), resettlement in a third country, and local integration in the host country. Solutions are guided by the principle of voluntariness, i.e., by the informed choice of the refugees. Voluntary repatriation - returning to one’s home country - is considered the most desirable solution. Return, property restitution, and compensation are part of durable solutions, in particular where displaced persons are victims of population transfer, i.e., ethnic cleansing.


End of Box 2


Ingrid Jaradat Gassner is the Director of the Badil Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, and can be reached at info@badil.org; Hazem Jamjoum is Badil’s Media-Information Officer, and can be reached at mediaenglish@badil.org.



i. Correspondence between the Sharif of Mecca and the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Henry MacMahon (MacMahon-Hussein correspondence), see Walid Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora. Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 3rd edition, 2004.

i. Correspondence between the Sharif of Mecca and the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Henry MacMahon (MacMahon-Hussein correspondence), see Walid Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora. Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 3rd edition, 2004.

ii. Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy. University of California Press, 1999, p. 17.


iii. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, 28 June 1919, reprinted in Survey of Palestine, Vol. I. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991, pp. 2-3.


iv. The Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Turkey, signed at Sèvres, 10 August 1920, Part II, Section VII, Art. 94.


v. Salman Abu Sitta, The Palestinian Nakba 1948: The Register of Depopulated Localities in Palestine. London: Palestinian Return Centre, 2001.


vi. Final Report of the United Nations Survey Mission for the Middle East (Part I); UN Doc. A/AC.25/6 cites a figure of 750,000 refugees. The total number of refugees rises to approximately 900,000 if the number of persons who lost their livelihood but not their homes is added.


vii. Terry Rempel, “Housing and Property Restitution: The Palestinian Refugee Case,” in Returning Home: Housing and Property Restitution Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons, Scott Leckie, ed. New York: Transnational Publishers, 2003, p. 296.


viii. Christison, p. 94.


ix. See, for example, Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992. Also: Chaim Simons, International Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 1895-1947, A Historical Survey. Hoboken, New Jersey: Ktav Publishing, 1988; Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oneworld Publications, 2006.


x. Raphael Patai, ed., The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Vol. I. New York: Herzl Press and T. Yoseloff, 1960, pp. 8-9.


xi. Nahum Goldmann, The Jewish Paradox. Grosset & Dunlap, 1978, p.99.


xii. Statement by Arthur Balfour, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Office No. 371/4183 (1919), quoted in The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem 1917-1988, Part I. New York: United Nations, 1990.


xiii. The Mandate for Palestine, 24 July 1922, is reprinted in Survey of Palestine, Vol. I. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991, pp. 4-11.


xiv. Basheer K. Nijim, ed., Toward the De-Arabization of Palestine/Israel 1945-1977. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1984, p. 10.


xv. See, for example, Yezid Sayigh, Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement 1949-1993. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies and Oxford University Press, 1999; Rony Gabbay, A Political Study of the Arab-Jewish Conflict: The Arab Refugee Problem (A Case Study). Geneva: Librairie E. Droz, and Paris, Librairie Minard, 1959, p. 66.


xvi. For the proposed texts of the questions to be submitted to the ICJ, see Iraq (UN Doc. A/AC.14.21); Syria (UN Doc. A/AC.14/25); and Egypt (UN Doc. A/AC.14/14).


xvii. Report of the UN Special Committee on Palestine, The Question of Palestine, UN Doc. A/364, 3 September 1947, paragraph 176.


xviii. ibid, Chapter VII Recommendations (III), paragraphs 10 and 11.


xix. See, for example, UNGAR 2787 (1971) and UNGAR 3236 (1974).


xx. There is no single authoritative source for the exact number of Palestinians forcibly displaced since 1948, or for the exact amount of land expropriated from Palestinians by Israel since 1948. The figures above are based on available data and estimates. For a more detailed analysis of these figures and comprehensive references, see: Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2006-2007. BADIL Resource Center, www.badil.org.


xxi. See: Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2006-2007.

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