The 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as displaced refugees. Today, their descendants are scattered across the globe, many lacking citizenship and residing in refugee camps. A solution that offers a measure of justice and a mutually agreed-upon solution is a necessary part of a peace treaty.
Past peace proposals have offered Palestinian refugees citizenship in a future state of Palestine. Israel has also offered monetary compensation and a symbolic acceptance of some refugees into Israel. Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert reportedly offered to accept 5,000 refugees, while President Abbas has pressed for up to 60,000.
J Street believes that this issue may be resolved by giving all Palestinians the right to live in the State of Palestine, providing monetary compensation for those who choose not to do so, launching an international effort to resettle all Palestinians still living in camps into permanent homes, allowing those in other countries to resettle permanently in the countries in which they reside and allowing a symbolic number to return to Israel for the purpose of family reunification.
Palestinians are constantly invoking the “right of return,” which would flood Israel with refugees and undermine it as a homeland for the Jewish people. How can we reach a peace agreement while they continue to make that demand?
As President Abbas himself has said, “it is my right to see [the town of my birth] Safad, but not to live there… I believe that [the] West Bank and Gaza is Palestine, and the other parts [are] Israel.”