- There are an estimated six million Palestinian refugees, with thousands more internally displaced inside Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Resolving their plight has been a core part of the peace agenda in the Middle East since 1948.
- While considerable diplomatic effort in the past two decades has centred on reaching a bilateral settlement between Israelis and Palestinians on the principal framework for a permanent status solution, implementing any agreement that may be reached presents an equally massive challenge.
- Any permanent status agreement that would see the end of conflict would have to address the moral, legal, and material aspects of the refugee question, including the provision of durable solutions to ensure permanent national protection and socio-economic development for the refugees.
- Third parties and international agency representatives will be especially critical for lending political, financial, and logistical support and needed technical expertise, which are likely to be channelled through an agreed institutional arrangement, or 'implementation mechanism'. The mechanism should account for both dimensions of a comprehensive solution to the refugee question: repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation, and reparations.
- Early preparations by the international community in consultation with refugees, refugee hosting-governments, and the parties would benefit an eventual implementation phase. Preparations should avoid prejudicing any future agreement to be decided by the parties while anticipating policy options. This paper outlines possible international contributions and their implications based on wide consultations and reflection on existing technical preparatory activities.