PA President and Fateh leader Mahmoud Abbas, on Saturday, instructed Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, to take immediate actions to absorb Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian Territories.According to WAFA, Mansour was instructed to cooperate with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in taking appropriate and necessary action to absorb displaced Palestinian refugees into the occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Presidency has been making contacts with the UN, EU and other relevant actors, urging them to pressurize the Israeli government to allow Palestinian refugees back into the oPt.
This action, the Presidency clarified, is intended to help stop the Palestinian refugee’s suffering and death as a result of ongoing displacement, especially refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
PLO Negotiations Affairs Department estimates original Palestinian refugees around 800,000 Christians and Muslims, who fled or were expelled prior to, during and after the 1948 war to create a state for Jews in Palestine. They and their descendents are often referred to as the “1948 refugees.”
In the aftermath of 1967 War launched by Israel against Jordan and Egypt, capturing and occupying the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (the Occupied Palestinian Territories), about 200,000 Palestinians fled their homes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They and their descendents are often referred to as the “1967 displaced persons.” Neither the 1948 refugees nor the 1967 displaced persons have been allowed by Israel to return to their homes in what is now Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Palestinians left their homes out of fear for their safety due to the military conflict. Many fled due to direct military assaults on their towns and villages; others were forcibly expelled by Zionist forces. Massacres of Palestinian civilians created an atmosphere of fear that understandably caused many Palestinians to seek safety elsewhere, it said.
Following the 1948 war, more than 400 Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed or resettled by Jews in an attempt to erase any evidence of a non-Jewish history and attachment to Palestine. Many destroyed Palestinian villages were rebuilt as Jewish towns and given Hebrew names.
Palestinian refugees have not been compensated for their proper loss. According to the PLO Negotiations Affairs department, conservative estimates of the current value of Palestinian property stolen or destroyed by Israel run well into billions of dollars, though estimates can vary based on whether non-material losses and compensation for host countries are included.
Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homes, just as civilians fleeing a war are entitled to return to their homes. Their right to return is embodied in UN resolution 194, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights among others, it stressed.
Israel has been refusing to abide by international law with respect to the rights of the indigenous non-Jewish population. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish state” and Palestinian refugees are Christians and Muslims. Jews from all over the world, and even converts to Judaism, are allowed to immigrate to Israel under the “Law of Return,” but in a clear demonstration of religious/ethnic discrimination, the indigenous Palestinian Muslim and Christian populations are banned from returning to their homes.
“No settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged…It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and indeed, offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries.” said UN Mediator for Palestine, Count Folk Bernadotte.
Under UN Resolution 194 – (passed on 11 December 1948 and reaffirmed every year since 1948), “…the [Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
Current estimations indicate that Palestinian refugees number 6.5 million and constitute the world’s oldest and largest refugee population, making up more than one-fourth of the entire refugee population in the world. Half of the refugees live in Jordan, one-fourth in the oPt, and approximately 15 percent live in Syria and Lebanon. An additional 263,000 live in Israel. The remainder live scattered around the world, primarily in the rest of the Arab world, Europe and the Americas.
More than 1.3 million Palestinian refugees live in 59 UN-administered refugee camps in the oPt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and 12 unrecognized refugee camps: five in the West Bank, three in Jordan and four in Syria.