Palestinian refugees and the right to return to their homeland

Sixty years after the establishment of Israel, there is no Arab-Israeli issue that remains as utterly divisive as the fate of Palestinian refugees .

I still remember an extremist from the Sash Party who found a quick solution to the Palestinian issue. He argued that Arab countries should divide the Palestinian population among them, especially those living in Israel. As for Al Aqsa Mosque, it should be transferred to Mecca. Thus inferring all the territory should be left just to the Israelis.

On my part I have even a crazier solution to this problem. The Israeli and the Palestinian land makes no more than 30,000 square kilometres. It won’t be spacious enough if the Palestinian refugees return there. Which means more than 10 million people should live in it, while in a decade or two that population can jump into 15 million. What I suggest is that a portion of the Israelis should return to their countries of origin, i.e. the countries from which they migrated to make room for the Palestinian refugees to have breathing space in the land from which they fled after the creation of Israel.

Now trying to be serious, I think the Palestinian issue will remain unresolved as long as the refugees aren’t granted the right to return to their homeland. This of course doesn’t mean all of them will seek to return, especially if they know the economic difficulties they can face. Currently, many of those living in Palestinian controlled territories are seeking to migrate to Europe, the Gulf States, or the USA. Many try to enter Egypt or Jordan, the nearest countries with which Israel has peace agreement. But they are confronted by the border guards and barbered wires.

What can solve the problem of the Palestinian refugees is a general peace agreement between the Arabs and the Israelis after solving territorial and border issues with mainly Syria and Lebanon. Economic cooperation in the region will make the Palestinians seek a better life in neighbouring countries while remaining attached to their homeland.

It is the political issue that makes the question of refugees of paramount importance. There are countries whose at least tenth of its population live abroad as immigrants or residents. The majority of the Lebanese live abroad in the Americas and even in Africa. The difference is that immigrants and even their offspring have the right to return to their countries of origin. For the Palestinians, a category of Palestinians living in refugee camps don’t yet have the right to return to the Palestinian territories, while the Palestinians living in Palestinian territories must have the permit to enter the Israeli territory. That’s what makes the issue look prickly. It still needs resilience on all sides to find a solution to it without politically trading in the rights of the people concerned.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous said,

    May 17, 2008 at 12:09 am

    The reason the Israelis don’t want to allow the Palestinians to return is because their leaders want to destroy the Israeli state. They have said many times that they want the Jews to be driven into the sea and won’t recognize their country. How can you expect any country to allow people who have stated time and time again that they want to destroy you, to live in your country and to be allowed to travel back and forth freely? Saying the Palestinians should be allowed to return to Israel doesn’t make sense and ignores the 60 years of violence against Israeli citizens. If they wanted to live in Israel, they had the option to do so 60 years ago, but decided to leave when they were told they would be able to return when the surrounding Arab states defeated Israel. The solution is to stop the rockets, stop the violence against Israel, and welcome peace.

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