Arab Issues  

         Palestine Refugees
More than 50 years of Injustice

 

   

by Nader Abuljebain


The Palestine refugee problem is the oldest and largest refugee problem. It has been on the agenda of the United Nations since its inception. For five decades the Palestine refugees have endured great injustice and hardships after having been uprooted from their homes and forced to live in Diaspora, deprived of minimum human and national rights. Their plight is considered to be one of the most difficult and complex issues. Clearly, a just solution to the question of Palestine cannot be achieved without a just solution to the issue of the Palestinian refugees.
The question of Palestine refugees involves a number of complex interrelated elements of great importance, including historical, political, moral, emotional and socio-economic elements, which cannot be ignored and must be addressed.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, approximately 750,000 Palestinians (almost half of the Palestinian population) were forced to leave their homes. Among the main reasons for this huge exodus of Palestinians from their homes, lands, properties and livelihood were the outbreak of war, the forced eviction of Palestinians and the violent campaign of terror and fear waged by Zionist terrorist groups.
The value of refugee movable property plus land owned by Arabs taken over by the Israeli government was estimated at approximately 120 million 1947 pounds sterling, or about 18.5 billion 1990 U.S dollars.

After the outbreak of the war in 1967, another 325,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were forced to flee their homes, many for the second time. A systematic policy of deportation and forced migration continued for several years after the war with an annual average of 21,000 Palestinians leaving the occupied Palestinian territories, prevented from returning.
Today the number of Palestinian refugees totals approximately 4.9 million persons, of which 3.6 million are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The largest concentration of Palestinian refugees is in Jordan, representing more than 40% of those refugees registered with UNRWA, and the refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Jerusalem, represent 38% of UNRWA's registration. Lebanon and Syria each host about 10% of the registered refugees and the remainder live in Egypt and other Arab countries, while others have migrated to Europe, the United States, Canada and South America.
Israel has systematically blocked the return of the Palestinian refugees in blatant violation of early United Nations resolutions and despite the commitments it made before the U.N. when it was admitted as a State Member of that world body. In fact, Israel's intentions were clearly manifested from the very beginning. When the new Jewish State enacted a number of laws blocking any possible return of the Palestinian refugees, including, the "Abandoned Areas Ordinance" (1948), "Emergency Regulations concerning the Cultivation of Waste Lands" (1949), "The Absentees' Property Law" (1950) and "Land Acquisition Law" (1953). Under such laws, Israel "legalized" the expropriation of Arab land property, some of which even belonged to several Palestinians who had remained in their homes.
At the same time, Israel had enacted the "Law of Return", allowing any Jewish person, regardless of place of birth, origin or nationality to immigrate to Israel and to acquire automatic Israeli citizenship. Since then, Jewish immigrants have continued to come to Israel and have been living on the land and property of the Palestinian refugees. According to the U.N. Conciliation Commission for Palestine, over 80% of Israel's total area represent abandoned Arab lands. Most of the Jewish communities established between 1948 and 1953 were established on former Arab property. Further over 500 villages and large parts of 94 other towns and cities, including most of their shops and businesses, were taken under Jewish control.
There have been numerous U.N. resolutions regarding the Palestine refugees, two of which are fundamental resolutions considered to be the basis for any just and lasting solution of the plight of the 1948 refugees and the 1967 displaced Palestinians. The first is General Assembly resolution 194 (III), which was adopted on 11 December 1948 and has been endorsed annually since then. Resolution 194 (III), inter alia, "resolves that the 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."

The second is Security Council resolution 237 (1967), adopted on 14 June 1967, which calls upon the Government of Israel " to facilitate the return of those inhabitants who have fled the areas since the outbreak of hostilities." 
Since then the Security Council has adopted numerous resolutions reaffirming the basic and inalienable right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the terrorizes occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, as well as  resolutions condemning Israel's expulsion and deportations of Palestinians, such as resolution 799 (1992). Another important Security Council resolution is resolution 242 (1967), since it has been the basis of all Arab-Israeli peace talks and agreements. Resolution 242, adopted on 22 November 1967, emphasizes " the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and affirms the necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem."
Every year the international community, through the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirms its call for the implementation of resolutions 194 (III) and 237 (1967). These resolutions should form the legal and political basis for any solution of the problem of the 1948 refugees and the 1967 displaced persons. 

The General Assembly Resolutions Reaffirming G.A.Res194 (III) and confirming that THE RIGHT OF RETURN is an INALIENABLE RIGHT OF THE PALESTINIAN'S' RIGHT OF THE SELF DETERMINATION :

SESSION/RES # DATE
32/40A 02 DEC 1977
33/28a 07 DEC 1978
34/65A 29 NOV 1979
35/69A 15 DEC 1980
36/120 10 DEC 1981
37/86A 10 DEC 1982
37/86F 10 DEC 1982
38/58C 13 DEC 1983
39/49A 11 DEC 1984
40/96A 12 DEC 1985
41/43 02 DEC 1986
42/66A 02 DEC 1987
43/167 15 DEC 1988
43/177 15 DEC 1988
44/41A 06 DEC 1989
44/42 06 DEC 1989
45/67 06 DEC 1990
46/47A 11 DEC 1991
47/64A 11 DEC 1992
48/158A 20 DEC 1993
49/62A 14 DEC 1994
50/12A 15 DEC 1995
51/82 16 DEC 1996
52/114 12 DEC 1997
53/136 09 DEC 1998
54/115 01 DEC 1999


The General Assembly Resolutions Reaffirming the RESTITUTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN REFUGEES

RES. / SESSION DATE 
302/4 08 DEC 1949
303/4 09 DEC 1949
393/5 10 DEC 1950
394/5 14 DEC 1950
512/6 26 JAN 1952
513/6 26 JAN 1952
614/7 06 NOV 1952
20A/8 27 NOV 1953
818/9 04 DEC 1954
16/10 03 DEC 1955
1018/12 28 FEB 1957
1191/12 12 DEC 1957
1315/13 12 DEC 1958
1456/14 09 DEC 1959
1604/15 21 APR 1961
1725/16 20 DEC 1961
1856/17 20 DEC 1962
1912/18 03 DEC 1963
2052/20 15 DEC 1965
2154/21 17 NOV 1966
2341A/22 19 DEC 1967
2452A/23 19 DEC 1968
2452B/23 19 DEC 1968
2535A/24 10 DEC 1969
2672A/25 08 DEC 1970
2792A/26 06 DEC 1971
2963A/27 13 DEC 1972
3089B/28 03 DEC 1973
3331A/29 17 SEP 1974
3419B/30 08 DEC 1975
31/15A 23 NOV 1976
32/90A 13 DEC 1977
33/112A 18 DEC 1978
34/52A 23 NOV 1979
35/13 03 NOV 1980
36/146C 16 DEC 1981
37/120K 16 DEC 1982
38/83A 15 DEC 1983
39/99A 14 DEC 1984
40/165A 16 DEC 1985
41/69A 16 DEC 1986
42/69A 02 DEC 1987
43/57A 06 DEC 1988
44/47A 08 DEC 1989
45/73A 11 DEC 1990
46/46 09 DEC 1991
47/69A 14 DEC 1992
48/40A 10 DEC 1993
49/35A 09 DEC 1994
50/26A 06 DEC 1995
51/120 13 DEC 1996
52/62 10 DEC 1997
53/51 03 DEC 1998
54/74 06 DEC 1999

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Nader Abuljebain

Palestinian from Jaffa, born in Kuwait and currently living in California.
Nader is a Civil Engineer, married and has two boys.
He has written many historical and political articles about the Palestinian struggle.
He wrote a book that is published by IPS about Palestine History in the Stamps.

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