Fundamental Disagreement on Refugee Issue

While attempts are being made to revive the peace process, statements regarding the Palestinian refugee issue reveal a significant gap between the mindsets of both parties.
Amidst the attempts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, there is also revival of the discussion regarding the issue of the Palestinian refugees. The renewed discourse exposes the gap between the positions of each side.

The differences of opinion are not focused solely on the solution to the problem, but also on the status of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which provides basic education, health, relief and employment services to over 4 million Palestinian refugees.

According to the Israeli mindset -

  • The refugee issue will be solved through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one. The refugee's right of return will be realized within the borders of the Palestinian state.
  • UNRWA is not helping to solve the refugee issue. Thus, UNRWA's powers should be transferred to governmental institutions in the PA, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, who hold responsibility for the refugee population in their territories.

According to the Palestinian mindset -

  • The refugee issue will be solved through the realization of the refugee's right of return to their original homes. Rising voices in the Palestinian arena state that the right of return is a personal matter. They argue that a national representation does not have the right to negotiation on this subject on behalf of the refugees.
  • UNRWA plays an important role in defending the rights of the Palestinian refugees. Its activities in the PA and in other countries should continue under the financial support of the international community.

Sources

  • The Israeli Agenda for the 61st UNGA, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website; full text.
  • Address by FM Livni to the UN General Assembly, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, 9/20/06; full text.
  • Jordan News Agency (Petra), 9/25/06; full text.
  • Al Jazeera, 9/22/06; full text.