Briefing Paper

Abbas Shiblak
      • The quest of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes is not only a legal and moral right but has become a major part of Palestinian identity and symbolizes Palestinian historical narratives.
      • The PLO embarked on a line of negotiation which sought to reconcile rightist and realist approaches. They sought acknowledgment by Israel of its responsibility for the refugee issue and acceptance in principle of their right of return while showing flexibility and readiness to discuss various formulations of return.
      • At the core of the inter-Palestinian debate is the dynamic between the two objectives of achieving statehood and the resolution of the refugee issue. State-building came to be seen not only as a means of reconstructing Palestinian identity but also as a catalyst to resolution of the refugee issue.
      • A peace agreement should widen the options for the refugees and address all aspects of the refugee issue including the rights of repatriation to Israel, return to a Palestinian state, compensation, and equality and full citizenship rights in countries where refugees choose to remain.
      • A comprehensive peace agreement must include the regional aspects of the refugee issue and all regional actors.
      • There is an urgent need to review the current format of negotiations and bring about more balanced and effective international political engagement in the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.