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A New Basis for Palestinian-Israeli Agreement


Israeli opposition leaders led by Shahar party leader Yossi Beilin and Palestinians led by Yasser Abd-Rabbo have been busy negotiating a new draft agreement, that would supposedly replace the Oslo accords as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The draft document has been finalized, and a ceremony marking the agreement was conducted in Jordan October 12, though the text has not yet been released.

According to Ha'aretz and other newspapers, the document makes some far reaching concessions on both sides. Israel will give up the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the settlements of Efrat, Ariel and others. Palestinians will concede the right of refugees to return to Israel. However, Hisham Abd-el Razek, who is one of the signatories, denies that the document concedes the right of return. Another innovation in the document that is of great importance if true, is the declaration that it supersedes all previous UN resolutions and other agreements. This means that negotiators no longer have the option of referring to different interpretations of UN Resolution 242 regarding Israeli withdrawal, or UN resolution 194 regarding Palestinian refugees. Of course, the UN would have to agree that resolutions designating Jerusalem as an international city (eg UN General Assembly Resolution 303 ) are also null and void.

The document is all the more remarkable because Yasser Abd-Rabbo has been considered a hard liner within the Fateh leadership. Palestinian insistence on Right of Return has been a key stumbling block in the negotiations along with Jerusalem, and Palestinian leader Sari Nusseibeh had stirred a great deal of opposition from extremist groups such as Al-Awda that oppose any concessions regarding Right of Return.

It will be remembered of course that Yossi Beilin negotiated an analogous draft document with Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) in 1995 when he was working for then Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. However, in the current negotations, the Israeli negotiators are all opposition figures and do not speak for the government. Since the memorandum was not negotiated by government representatives, it has only symbolic value, though ideas in this document may no doubt find their way into subsequent formal agreements. The draft agreement has been attacked by both PM Ariel Sharon and former Labor party PM Ehud Barak, though Beilin claims that Barak knew of the negotiations. Predictably, Palestininian extremists representing the Right of Return lobby, such as the BADIL group have slammed the agreement as well. Badil and Al-Awda are opposed to any compromise that would leave the state of Israel intact as a Jewish state. Likewise, other extremists have rallied round the naysayers.

The Oslo agreements should have taught us several lessons. One of them is that peace cannot be made solely by signing agreements. The agreements must reflect the sentiments of the people. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is characterized by deep fault lines and deeply entrenched positions. Israelis will not necessarily give up Jerusalem or Ariel just because Yossi Beilin signed a paper saying they would. Though such concessions may have been conceivable in 2000, it is unlikely that many Israelis would support them after several years of violence.

It is not known to what extent Palestinians will be willing to give up claims over all of Israel, and it is very unlikely that Palestinian refugees will give up right of return. The Al-Awda group was formed expressly for the purpose of preventing the Palestinian Authority from wavering on this issue. Until recently, public opinion polls had indicated that over 80% of Palestinian refugees would never give up the right to return to their homes in Israel, which they claim is guaranteed to them under UN General Assembly Resolution 194. A recent (June 2003) poll by Dr. Khalil Shikaki showed that most refugees would not really exercise that right in fact. Shikaki was subject to a campaign of intimidation and threats but stood by his findings.

The value of this agreement is that it can be both a source of ideas for the future as well as an instrument in educating the public and preparing them to make the necessary compromises on key issues. Both sides have made difficult compromises. Perhaps that is part of the rationale: leaders of each side can show their constituents that they have won real concessions. No longer can Palestinian extremists insist that right of return to Israel is a rock solid part of the Palestinian consensus, if key Fatah and PLO leaders have agreed to give it up. Israeli settler partisans can no longer insist that Efrat is part of the national consensus, since leaders well within the Zionist mainstream have agreed to give up Efrat for peace. The draft document brings us a small step closer to acceptance of a peaceful compromise by both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Ami Isseroff

Sources and additional reading :
(These and other sources are archived at Mewnews and were originally distributed by Mewnews

Ex-PA minister: Peace draft doesn't concede right of return

By Mazal Mualem, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Former Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs
Hisham Abd al-Raziq was quoted in Monday's Al-Quds
newspaper as saying that the unofficial draft
peace agreement completed Sunday by Palestinian
and leftist Israeli negotiators does not include a
Palestinian concession on the right of return.

Such a concession, which the Palestinians have agreed to
exchange for Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple
Mount, comprises the core of the agreement, known as the
Geneva Accord.

In reaction to Abd al-Raziq's
remark, Meretz MK Haim Oron,
who participated in negotiating

the agreement, said that the Palestinians had
agreed to concede the right of return and to
solve the "refugee" issue outside the borders
of Israel, Israel Radio reported.

However, Abd al-Raziq's statement appears to be
partly a semantic comment on what the "right of
return" actually means. Israel Radio quoted Abd
al-Raziq as saying that those "refugees" who do
return to Israel would be able to do so only
with Israeli agreement, and that some
Palestinians will remain in the countries where
they now live or be absorbed by the Palestinian
Authority - precisely the terms of the

The agreement, though, also explicitly calls for
the Palestinians to concede the right of
return, and says that a decision to allow the
limited number of Palestinians to settle in
Israel will not be defined as realization of
the right of return.

On a substantive level, Abd al-Raziq seems to be
committing to the same treatment of "refugees"
as the agreement specifies. However, his
explicit rejection of a Palestinian concession
of the right of return, despite the equally
explicit wording of the agreement demanding
such a concession, could be interpreted as a
contradiction of the peace draft.

The draft itself has no official status.
Palestinian sources said that Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was updated on
the talks and is aware of all the details of
the agreement. But on the Israeli side, all the
negotiators were members of the opposition,
acting without the government's knowledge

Sources associated with former minister Yossi
Beilin, who headed the Israeli negotiation
team, said that the Prime Minister's Office was
continually kept updated on developments in the
negotiations, Army Radio reported Monday.
Sources in the Prime Minister's office denied
the claims.

Education Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) said the
agreement was created by the political margins
who are being used as tools in Arafat's hands,
Israel Radio reported Monday.

The draft is to be signed in Switzerland in the
coming weeks - possibly on November 4, the
anniversary of former prime minister Yitzhak
Rabin's assassination. The Swiss Foreign
Ministry financed and mediated the
negotiations, which took two and a half years.
In the weeks leading up to the signing, both
sides intend to embark on an aggressive
campaign to market the agreement to their
respective publics.

Sunday's ceremony in Jordan to mark completion
of the document was attended on the Israeli
side by Beilin, who headed the Israeli
negotiating team; MKs Oron, Amram Mitzna
(Labor) and Avraham Burg (Labor); former MK
Nehama Ronen; Brigadier General (reserve) Giora
Inbar and author Amos Oz.

Other Israelis party to the initiative include
former chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, MK
Yuli Tamir (Labor) and several Meretz MKs. The
Palestinian representatives at the ceremony,
who also led the talks for their side, were
former ministers Yasser Abed Rabbo, Nabil
Kassis and Hisham Abdel Razeq and two leaders
of the Fatah-affiliated Tanzim organization,
Kadoura Fares and Mohammed Khourani.

Abed Rabbo, who defined the draft as "the start
of a new era," said that he had received
congratulations on the agreement from Arafat,
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and
Qureia's predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas.

Khourani, who noted that four of his brothers
are in Israeli jails, said: "We understood that
Israel cannot defeat us by military means, but
we also understood that we can't defeat Israel,
and the solution must be political."

Declared Mitzna: "The peace camp now has an
agenda. We've finished the easy part; now we've
come to the hard part - to return to Israel and
knock on every door, and convince the public."

Oz noted that "those who attack us will
undoubtedly ask: `What have you done? You've
given them everything in exchange for a few
embraces' ... But what we have done today will
determine the future."

Beilin, responding to his critics on the right -
who charged that the architect of the Oslo
Accords was now repeating his disastrous error
- said: "I know that they'll say this is a bad
agreement, that we caved in and gave away
everything. But one thing they won't be able to
say: that there is no partner [for an

Government officials led the attack on Beilin
and his colleagues. "There is a government in
Israel, and it is the one that deals with such
matters," said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
"Everything else is virtual. I wouldn't have
expected much else from those who brought us
the Oslo Accords, for which foolishness we are
still paying the price today, but therefore, we
need to keep this in proportion."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who first began
attacking the Beilin-Abed Rabbo initiative last
week, said Sunday that it has foiled any chance
of advancing serious negotiations on a peace

Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres declined to
comment on the document, saying he could not do
so until he knew what it said.

The main points of the draft are as follows:

* The Palestinians will concede the right of
return. Some refugees will remain in the
countries where they now live, others will be
absorbed by the PA, some will be absorbed by
other countries and some will receive financial
compensation. A limited number will be allowed
to settle in Israel, but this will not be
defined as realization of the right of return.

* The Palestinians will recognize Israel as the
state of the Jewish people.

* Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders,
except for certain territorial exchanges, as
decribed below.

* Jerusalem will be divided, with Arab
neighborhoods of East Jerusalem becoming part
of the Palestinian state. Jewish neighborhoods
of East Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank
suburbs of Givat Ze'ev, Ma'aleh Adumim and the
historic part of Gush Etzion - but not Efrat -
will be part of Israel.

* The Temple Mount will be Palestinian, but an
international force will ensure freedom of
access for visitors of all faiths. However,
Jewish prayer will not be permitted on the
mount, nor will archaeological digs. The
Western Wall will remain under Jewish
sovereignty and the "Holy Basin" will be under
international supervision.

* The settlements of Ariel, Efrat and Har Homa
will be part of the Palestinian state. In
addition, Israel will transfer parts of the
Negev adjacent to Gaza, but not including
Halutza, to the Palestinians in exchange for
the parts of the West Bank it will receive.

* The Palestinians will pledge to prevent terror and incitement and disarm all militias. Their state will be demilitarized, and border crossings will be supervised by an international, but not Israeli, force.

* The agreement will replace all UN resolutions and previous agreements.

18 July 2003
Press Release

January-June 2003
I. Introduction:

PSR conducted three major surveys among Palestinian refugees in three areas: the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip (WBGS), Jordan and Lebanon. Based on several
previous surveys showing that the overwhelming majority of the refugees (more
than 95%) insist on maintaining the "right of return" as a sacred right that can
never be given up, PSR surveys sought to find out how refugees would behave once
they have obtained that right and how they would react under various likely
conditions and circumstances of the permanent settlement. The three surveys have
been funded by the Japanese government (through the United Nations Development
Program), the (German) Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the (Canadian)
International Development Research Center. One survey among non-refugees in the
WBGS has also been conducted to examine the views of non-refugees on some of the
same issues raised in the refugees' surveys. The WBGS refugee survey was
conducted by PSR in January 2003, and the WBGS non-refugee survey in April
2003.The Jordan survey was conducted in May 2003 by the Center for Strategic
Studies at Jordan University with full PSR supervision. The Lebanon survey was
conducted in June 2003 by Statistics Lebanon Company.
Sample size for the three refugees' surveys was 4506 distributed at the three
areas almost equally, averaging 1500 interviews with refugee families in each
area. A random sample was selected taking into consideration refugee
distribution (inside-outside refugee camps) in each area. Rejection rate was
less than 1% and the margin of error was 3%.
For further information on the surveys and the findings, contact Dr. Khalil
Shikaki or Ayoub Mustafa at PSR at 972 2 296 4933 or fax 0972 2 296 4934, or by
email: pcpsr@pcpsr.org.
(2) Objectives of the surveys:
The surveys had two main objectives:
To help the process of peace negotiations, the surveys sought to find out
refugees' preferences in the permanent agreement with Israel. For this purpose,
the refugees were asked about their attitude toward various political solutions
and about their likely behavior under a specific solution that was discussed at
the Taba Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in January 2001. To insure maximum
benefits, the questionnaire was prepared in consultation with official
Palestinian institutions in charge of negotiations and refugee affairs in the
PLO and the Palestinian Authority.

To help the planning and absorption process by making estimates of the number
and socio-economic and demographic profile of refugees who may prefer to live in
the Palestinian state. To insure maximum benefits, the questionnaire was
prepared in consultation with official Palestinian institutions responsible for
planning in the Palestinian Authority.
PSR consulted also with researchers and NGOs dealing with refugee issues to
benefit from their experience and insights. While we are grateful for the advice
we have received, PSR is responsible for all aspects of this work: the
preparation of questions, the selection of the sample, the conduct of the
fieldwork, and the analysis of the results.
(3) Main Findings
Three kinds of data have been collected: information about the refugees and
their socio-economic conditions in the three areas examined, views and attitudes
of refugees regarding peace settlement issues, and expected refugees' behavior
under a specific peace solution and under various conditions and circumstances
of a refugee settlement.
1. Selected Information on refugees
The surveys show that the overwhelming majority of the refugees are registered
with UNRWA, the UN agency that cares for the Palestinian refugees. The WBGS came
first with 98% registration followed by Lebanon (94%) and Jordan (91%).
Average family size in the WBGS sample was 7.55 (individuals per family),
followed by Jordan with 6.16, and Lebanon with 4.59. With regard to age groups,
WBGS had the largest percentage of young people, less than 18 years old, with
48% followed by Jordan with 37% and Lebanon with 35%. Lebanon had the highest
percentage for the old, more than 52 years old, with 17%, followed by Jordan
with 12% and WBGS with 9%. With regard to education, Lebanon had the lowest illiteracy rate. Lebanon also had the highest rate of those with elementary and preparatory education (62%).
Jordan had the highest rate secondary education (16%). WBGS had the highest
illiteracy rate with 35% followed by Jordan (24%) and Lebanon (11%).
With regard to income, Jordan had the highest percentage of income in the middle
brackets (45%) followed by Lebanon (42%) and the WBGS (27%). For those with low
income level, Lebanon came first (36%) followed by WBGS (32%) and Jordan (17%).
The WBGS had the largest percentage of those in the high income brackets (41%)
followed by Jordan (38%) and Lebanon (22%). Of course these income levels are
relative and reflect arbitrary distribution selected for analytical purposes

Refugees in Lebanon had the largest percentage of relatives living in Israel
(39%) followed by Jordan's (24%) and Palestine (21%). With regard to relatives
who immigrated to foreign countries, Lebanon came on top here as well with 64%
followed by Jordan and WBGS (24% each). As for those with relatives in the WBGS,
Jordan came first (56%) followed by Lebanon (21%).
97% of those interviewed in Jordan and 15% of those interviewed in the WBGS
carries the Jordanian passport. In Lebanon, 74% had Lebanese travel documents
for Palestinian refugees, and in Palestine 42% carried Palestinian passports
while 6% carried Egyptian travel documents or passports.
63% of refugees in Lebanon own a house in the refugee camps while those owning
land in Lebanon did not exceed 1%. In Jordan, 48% own a house outside the camps
and 11% own land in the country. In the WBGS, 47% own a house inside the camps
and 48% own a house outside the camps while 17% own land. The highest percentage
of private car ownership was found in Lebanon (31%) followed by Jordan (25%) and
WBGS (15%).

2. Selected Views
A proposed solution of the refugee issue was presented to respondents who were
then asked how they would view it and how they would behave if given the right
to choose among the options made available by the solution. The following is the
full text of the solution presented:
"We will now read you a proposed solution to the refugee problem that was
published in Palestinian papers in the light of the Taba negotiations in January
2000. We will then ask you few questions:
"The establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and
Israeli recognition of UN resolution 194 or the right of return. But the two
sides would agree on the return of a small number of refugees to Israel in
accordance with a timetable that extends for several years. Each refugee family
will be able to choose one of the following options:
1. Return to Israel in accordance with an annual quota and become an Israeli
2. Stay in the Palestinian state that will be established in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip and receive a fair compensation for the property taken over by Israel
and for other losses and suffering
3. Receive Palestinian citizenship and return to designated areas inside Israel
that would be swapped later on with Palestinian areas as part of a territorial
exchange and receive compensation
4. Receive fair compensation for the property, losses, and suffering and stay in
the host country receiving its citizenship or Palestinian citizenship
5. Receive fair compensation for the property, losses, and suffering and
immigrate to a European country or the US, Australia, or Canada and obtain
citizenship of that country or Palestinian citizenship.
A majority of refugees in the three areas expressed the belief that Israel
would reject the proposed solution to the refugee problem. But a majority of 55%
in Jordan, 63% in Palestine, and 67% in Lebanon believed the PLO would accept
the solution. However, the respondents were split in their evaluation of the
likely response of the majority of the refugees with WBGS refugees split right
in the middle, Jordan's refugees tilting toward acceptance, and Lebanon's toward
rejection. When asked how they themselves feel about the proposal, the
respondents in Palestine and Lebanon were divided into two equal groups,
rejecting or accepting it, while in Jordan it was accepted by 50% and rejected
by 37% with the rest expressing no opinion. When asked how they would react to a
Palestinian-Israeli agreement embracing the proposal, the overwhelming majority
tended to approve such agreement even if most felt they would do so for the lack
of better alternative. A small percentage (15%, 9%, and 8% in WBGS, Lebanon, and
Jordan respectively) said that it would not only oppose such solution but would
also resist it.
While a majority of Lebanon's refugees believe that the WBGS is unable to absorb
refugees from other countries, the percentage drops to 27% in the WBGS and 26%
in Lebanon.
When asked if they would like to play a role in building the Palestinian state,
the percentage of those wishing to do so was very high among refugees in WBGS
(84%) going down to 61% in Lebanon and 52% in Jordan.
While a two-third majority of refugees in WBGS supported the reference in the
roadmap to "an agreed, fair, and realistic" solution to the refugee problem, the
level of support dropped to 46% among refugees in Jordan and 45% in Lebanon.
A second possible political settlement was proposed to respondents. In this
settlement, the issue of refugees would remain unresolved and postponed while
all other issues would be permanently settled. A majority of refugees in WBGS
supported such settlement, but the majority of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan
did not support it. However, the level of support for this "permanent-minus"
settlement increased when refugees where told that refugees would be provided
housing projects while waiting for a resolution of their problem. When asked
whether they would like to move to the Palestinian state under such settlement
and wait there for a permanent resolution of the refugee issue, two-thirds of
refugees in Lebanon and Jordan preferred to stay in Lebanon. But 25% of Jordan's
refugees and 31% of Lebanon's refugees expressed willingness to move temporarily
to the Palestinian state and wait there for a solution.
Refugees were asked about the side they would choose to represent them in
negotiations over the refugee problem. The overwhelming majority of refugees in
Lebanon and WBGS chose the PLO (86% and 73% in Lebanon and WBGS respectively).
But in Jordan, only 40% chose the PLO while 28% selected the government of
Jordan and 16% did not expressed an opinion. However, the confidence in the PLO
drops when it comes to the management of the compensation process. The largest
percentage (42%) in WBGS favored a joint team from the PLO, the UN, and
representatives of refugees. But in Lebanon, the largest percentage (45%)
favored the PLO, and in Jordan, the joint team received 28%, the PLO 22%, and
the Jordanian government 23%. It should be mentioned that the questions
regarding compensation were asked only to those whose choice for the exercise of
the right of return involved compensation.
No significant differences were found between the attitudes of refugees and
non-refugees in WBGS.
3. Expected Behavior:
After reading the proposed solution to the refugee problem (full text above),
respondents were asked to choose the option or options they preferred or reject
all options and describe, in their own words, what would constitute an
acceptable solution.
The following represents the answers of the refugees in the three areas:
Refugees' First Choice
WBGS% Jordan% Lebanon% Total (% of total population in the
three areas)
1. Return to Israel and become (or not become) an Israeli citizen
WBGS% Jordan% Lebanon% Total
12 5 23 10
2. Stay in the Palestinian state that will be established in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip and receive a fair compensation for the property taken over by Israel
and for other losses and suffering
WBGS% Jordan% Lebanon% Total
38 27 19 31
3. Receive Palestinian citizenship and return to designated areas inside Israel
that would be swapped later on with Palestinian areas as part of a territorial
exchange and receive any
deserved compensation
WBGS% Jordan% Lebanon% Total
37 10 21 23

4. Receive fair compensation for the property, losses, and suffering and stay in
host country receiving its citizenship or Palestinian citizenship -
WBGS% Jordan% Lebanon% Total
- 33 11 17
5. Receive fair compensation for the property, losses, and suffering and
immigrate to a European country or the US, Australia, or Canada and obtain
citizenship of that country or Palestinian citizenship
WBGS% Jordan%
Lebanon% Total
1 2
9 2
6. Refuse all options 9 16
17 13
7. No opinion 2 8
0 5

Based on the percentages listed above, the number of refugees wishing to move
from Lebanon and Jordan to the Palestinian state in an exercise of the right of
return would be 784, 049. The number of those wishing to exercise the same
right of by returning to Israel from the three areas under examination would be
373,673. The numbers in these two categories of the exercise of return would
vary however depending on several considerations related to the conditions and
circumstances of return and residency. For example, the surveys found that 45%
of Lebanon's refugees, 52% of Jordan's, and 47% of WBGS would change their
choice and exercise the right of return in the swapped areas of the Palestinian
state if their homes and villages were demolished. The overwhelming majority of
the refugees wishing to exercise the right of return in Israel refuse to become
Israeli citizenship and prefer to stay refugees or select other options if
carrying Israeli citizenship is mandatory.

Those who opted for an option entailing compensation were asked to make their
own estimates of what they thought would be paid to each refugee family and what
they thought would be a fair compensation. The estimates for a fair compensation
were much higher than the estimates of what would actually be paid. For example,
66% in WBGS believed that what would be paid would be $ 100,000 or less, while
65% believed that a fair compensation should be between $100,000 and $ 500,000.

The surveys also showed that more than one third of refugees in Lebanon and
Jordan (from among those who would accept to have their compensation in the form
of land or houses) would accept land and houses located in evacuated
settlements. But this percentage rises to 48% among the refugees in WBGS.
With regard to immigration to third countries, an option selected by a small
minority, the most popular third country in Lebanon was a European one while the
US was the most popular among refugees in Jordan and the least popular in WBGS.

(4) Driving forces

When formulating the questions for the surveys, we sought to understand the
motivation and driving forces behind the attitudes and behavior of the refugees.
PSR researchers had four hypotheses regarding these drivers:

Hypothesis one: in selecting places of residence and absorption, in the exercise
of the right of return, refugees would be motivated by the degree of their
attachment to, and perception of, Palestinian national identity.
Hypothesis two: refugees in host countries in particular will also be motivated
by their perception of the nature of the relationship they have with those
countries and the extent of the civil and political equality they enjoy in them.

Hypothesis three: refugees will also be motivated by family considerations;
i.e., depending on where relative lived: in Israel, the Palestinian state, or
third counties.

Hypothesis four: selection of choices would also be dependent on socio-economic
considerations in their current place of residence (what area, inside or outside
refugee camps, etc.) and on the extent of refugee ownership in those areas of

Findings clearly show the significance of national identity leading the majority
to choose to exercise the right of return in the Palestinian state. The findings
also show that the perception of relative equality enjoyed by refugees in Jordan
(compared to those in Lebanon) increased the percentage of those selecting
Jordan as the place where they would permanently reside while only a small
minority opted to stay in Lebanon. In Lebanon, in particular, the results
showed the significance of family links leading to the highest percentages of
demand on immigration to third countries as well as the demand to live in Israel
as these are the areas in which Lebanon's refugees have relatives more than
other refugee groups in Jordan and WBGS. Finally, the findings show that the
percentage of those who opted to stay in host countries increases among refugees
living outside refugee camps and that those wishing to go the Palestinian state
increases among those with lower and middle levels of income compared to those
who a higher level of income. Moreover, those who own homes and land in their
place of residence tend to want to stay in that place.
END of press release

Last Update: 13/07/2003 22:33

10% of Palestinian refugees would want to use right of return
By Haaretz Service and Reuters

Just ten percent of Palestinian refugees living in
the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan and Lebanon are
interested in coming back to their former homes in
Israel, according to a survey conducted by a
Ramallah research institute, Israel Radio reported
Sunday night.

The director of the survey, Khalil Shikaki, says that most
of the refugees understand that returning to Israel entails
accepting an Israeli citizenship, in addition to
conforming to laws and life in Israeli society.

The survey included interviews with 4,500 people.
Approximately half said they would like to live in an independent
Palestinian state, while 17 percent preferred
to stay in their current home. Similar surveys
conducted in the past have reported some 95
percent demanding the right of return, but the
question of whether the refugees would actually
put their right into action was never posed to

Dozens of furious Palestinian refugees wrecked
Shikaki's office on Sunday to stop him
releasing the survey, pelting him with eggs,
overturning tables and smashing windows.

Shikaki, whose think-tank monitors the
Palestinian political pulse through periodic
surveys, found that "the vast majority" of
refugees were willing to accept monetary
compensation in lieu of a return to homes and
land they abandoned or were forced to flee when
Israel was established in the 1948 Arab-Israeli

"This is a message for everyone not to tamper
with our rights," one angry refugee said as
others trashed the offices of Shikaki's
Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey

Palestinian police intervened to calm tempers,
but Shikaki, his shirt stained by egg yolk,
aborted the press conference he had called at
his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah to
announce the results of his survey.

"They did not even see the results," Shikaki
told Reuters as he mopped egg from his face. He
was not hurt.

Shikaki said in earlier comments to reporters
that his poll found most refugees scattered
across the Middle East would be prepared to
accept compensation and a new life in a
Palestinian state and did not expect to return
to their former homes.

Around 700,000 Palestinians became refugees when
Israel was established in 1948. Their numbers
have swelled to over four million living in
refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip,
Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Israel opposes the return of the refugees which
it says would reduce the Jews to a minority in
the Jewish state, where there are currently
some five million Jews and one million Arabs.

The refugees and many Palestinians publicly say
there can be no peace with Israel until Israel
recognizes the refugees' right of return.

The issue of refugees is so emotive that it was
left until the final stage of negotiations when
Israel and the Palestine Liberation
Organization signed the Oslo peace accords in

Few Palestinian politicians have been prepared
to suggest the refugees waive the right of
return. One official, Sari Nusseibeh, lost
popularity among Palestinians when he suggested
the right of return was not realistic.

BADIL Press Release Slams Memorandum
[BADIL is an extremist refugee lobby that has opposed proposals to give up Right of
Return in the past, and called Sari Nusseibeh a traitor. They are not representative of
the Palestinian leadership, but this press release is indicative of the kind of opposition
that the proposal will face in Palestine - Mewnews]

Throwing Away Refugee Rights? The "Geneva proposal"

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency
and Refugee Rights

For immediate publication
Press Release - 13 October 2003

Throwing away Palestinian refugee rights

Talks between Palestinians and Israelis that ignore the rights of Palestinian refugees under international law and human rights conventions will not produce a durable solution to the issue, says BADIL, the Bethlehem-based Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee

Recent talks held in Geneva and Amman not only ignored international law but press reports say
that all UN resolutions and previous agreements would be supplanted under any plan resulting
from these talks. A future peace must be based on international law, says BADIL.

Why do Palestinian refugees insist on the recognition of their rights?

BADIL points to the huge body of international law and conventions developed over the past 100
years on human rights and the rights of all refugees. This includes UN Resolution 194 of
1948 that guarantees Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes and restitution
for property lost. These rights have been enshrined in international law. How individuals
will exercise this right is a matter of their personal choice as outlined in various other
international agreements, says BADIL.

BADIL takes a rights-based approach to the issue of Palestinian refugees and is sponsoring a
series of seminars to improve the understanding of this approach; build a network of experts on
various aspects of the refugee issue; encourage research on Palestinian rights and enhance the
understanding of and support for a rights-based approach among policymakers, politicians, the
media and Palestinians themselves.

The most recent seminar on housing and property restitution was held last week. It will be
followed by a seminar on International and Regional Mechanisms for Palestinian Refugee
Protection in Cairo next spring.


|BADIL Resource Center aims to provide a resource pool
of alternative, critical and progressive information on the
question of Palestinian refugees in our quest to achieve
a just and lasting soluton for exiled Palestinians based
on their right of return.

Palestinian leaders condemn "Swiss Accord"

Occupied Jerusalem: 13 October, 2003 (IAP News)

The so-called "Geneva Agreement" or "Swiss Accord" has triggered strong reactions from Palestinian public leaders who dismissed it "as unbinding to the Palestinian people."

The agreement, formulated in Geneva last week by a group of Palestinian and Zionist figures, including former officials, effectively concedes the right of return for some five million Palestinian refugees in exchange for Palestinian statehood.

"This agreement represents the views of those who signed it, it doesn't represent the views of the Palestinian people," said Jamil Majdalawi, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Majdalawi pointed out that the Right of Return represented the central aspect of the Palestinian cause, adding that sacrificing that right meant killing the entire Palestinian cause.

"The right of return is the heart of the Palestinian problem."

He called the Geneva document a "corruption of the Oslo Accords as the Oslo Accords were a corruption of UN resolution 242."

Abdullah al Hourani, head of the PLO refugee department, also castigated the agreement.

"I am talking about five million refugees. Nobody has the right to give up their right to return to their homes from which they were expelled at gunpoint."

Hourani warned that the PLO would no longer be the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people if it chose to sacrifice the right of return.

"The right of return was the raison d'etre of the PLO, if it abandoned that right, it would lose that raison d'etre."

It is not clear if the Palestinian leadership accepts the accords.

On Monday, former PA official Yasser Abed Rabbo told the al-Quds daily newspaper that Yasser Arafat had called him to congratulate him on signing the draft agreement.

However, there has been no official reaction to the accords from the Palestinian Authority.

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Replies: 3 comments

I am surprised not so much by the rapidity of an official Israel disapproval than by PA's silence.

They seem slow to react.

Posted by Paul @ 10/13/2003 09:32 PM CST

This seems like yet another piece of Yossi Beilin "brilliance": The Palestinians are required to give up only an illusory right (the so-called "Right of Return") and make some worthless promises of future good behavior, in return for which Israel is required to make substantial (and material, and expensive, and irrevocable) concessions. Well done, Yossele!

Posted by Don Radlauer @ 10/19/2003 03:58 PM CST

to long why dont you cut to the point there will never be peace in the mid east it will never end as long as there is Isaraelis and palestinians you cant stop it so leave them alone..... Bush did the right thing by killn Irqais

Posted by Bush_Supporter101 @ 10/23/2003 11:29 PM CST

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