Palestinian Refugees: A Clear-Eyed Look at Return

Palestinian Refugees: A Clear-Eyed Look at Return

A United Nations vote on statehood for Palestine will not determine whether and how a Palestinian state is established and recognized. That will be determined predominantly by the political realities dividing and linking Israel and Palestine. However, regional and global factors may influence the timing and shape of the forthcoming Palestinian state, the extent to which its prospects for peace and prosperity are enhanced and the basis on which its relations with surrounding states are put in place. Since one important area in which exogenous factors may be as important as internal factors in Palestine and Israel is refugee return, it is worth exploring what those factors are, how they can be altered to foster successful reintegration of the returning refugees and how that process will influence an eventual Palestinian state's relationships with other states.

Right of Return

This essay will not rehash the well-worn path of the right of return or negotiations over that right (.pdf). The historical patterns of refugee return in general are far more important in helping to understand the anticipated problems of return in the Palestinian case. Nevertheless, since the evolution of that doctrine and, more importantly, its perception will also have an impact, the issue has to be briefly revisited, especially from the perspective of perceptions.

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