Palestinian Issue Stuff...
Another email debate prompted me to compose this... figured I'd post it, as well.
This page catalogs 396 Arab villages obliterated by the nascent Israeli forces in 1948. It also offers this quote from Moshe Dayan:
"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu'a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab Population."
Moshe Dayan, Israeli war hero, Address to the Technion, Haifa
(as quoted in Ha'aretz, April 4, 1969)
This page offers refugee numbers. About 725,000 refugees were driven out of Israel in 1948-49. Another 180,000 refugees fled the West Bank in 1967 (120,000 more were fleeing Israel for the second time).
As of 1995, there were about 6.6 million Palestinians, with 3.1 million as UNRWA-registered refugees. 1.2 million of those refugees were in Gaza and the West Bank. The remainder were in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, mostly Jordan.
In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees are not allowed citizenship and are the least integrated in the state. In Syria, Palestinians are not granted citizenship, but have free access to governmental institutions. Jordanian Palestinians are allowed citizenship in that state.
As of October 1994, Israel agreed in the Israel-Jordan peace treaty to resolve the refugee problem in Article VIII.2:
1. In the case of displaced persons, in a quadripartite committee together with Egypt and the Palestinians;
2. In the case of refugees:
1. in the framework of the Multilateral Group on Refugees [Refugee Working Group]
2. in negotiations, in a framework to be agreed, bilateral or otherwise, in conjunction with and at the same time as the permanent status negotiations pertiaing to the territories referred to in Article 3 of this treaty [i.e., the territories "that came under Israeli government control in 1967"]
This page has that quote and a lengthier description of a May 2001 agreement on the "right of return". The agreement broke down as violence escalated and further collapsed after Sharon took over in Israel. Although the General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948 specifies there must be a "Right of Return", Israel passed a law around that time forbidding Palestinian refugees to return.
Most Palestinians accept the reason behind Israel is that it is a Jewish homeland, and that Israel is very crowded with refugees/immigrants from other nations and that their right of return would be to Gaza and the West Bank, not pre-1948 homes, emphasizing attainable, rather than absolute, justice.
While Labour politicians in Israel are receptive to such an interpretation of the right of return, Likud is hostile to the idea. Ariel Sharon blamed the Palestinians for their own refugee problem and then offered, "If we want to continue living in this country, a solution to the refugee problem must be found elsewhere - even if it goes against the Camp David accords." Current Likud policy opposes the creation of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.
There is also the question of reparations. UNGAR 194 specifies reparations must be paid, and estimates range into the tens of billions. Israel alone could not afford to pay them, certainly not all at once.
About 40% of the Palestinian refugees in Jordan are from the West Bank; less than 1% of the Syrian and Lebanese are from that area. This means, essentially, that a return to the West Bank is only a return to a Palestinian nation, not their actual hometown. Even so, it is impossible to estimate how many Palestinians would return from the diaspora to a new state. Certainly, most who could leave Lebanon would, but it's not clear exactly what the rest of the 8 million (2005 est.) Palestinians in the region would do.
It is clear that in the current escalation of violence, few leaders on either side are inclined to compromise. Israel's fears of being overwhelmed by a Palestinian tide are not entirely without basis, if the Palestinians and Israelis don't choose to accomodate each other: of a 2002 population of 6.2 million, 20% of all Israelis were non-Jewish, overwhelmingly Arab. The Arab population within Israel continues to grow at a faster rate than the Jewish population, and there are an expected 6-7 million Palestinians in the immediate area. The Palestinian population is almost double the Jewish in the region and many inside Israel, while not willing to allow a full right of return for Palestine, believe their best hope for survival as a state means accomodating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
by Dean Webb