66 years of ongoing Nakba – Back to Basics: The Right of Return is a national and inalienable right

On the 66th commemoration of the Nakba, the movement for Palestinian liberation is in disarray. Political parties are divided, the Palestine Liberation Organization is dysfunctional, the Palestinian Authority is dependent on foreign donors with ulterior agendas and a collective national strategy is absent. Institutions do not fulfill their purposes and the Palestinian people’s capacity for grassroots mobilization is frayed.


These elements provide an opportunity for the Israeli regime to unilaterally impose ‘facts on the ground’ and its advocate, the USA, to strong-arm an unjust political solution. Both developments undermine the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees – the core of the Palestinian cause.


Israel denies the Right of Return to the homes of origin for 7.4 million Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Meanwhile, Israel maintains efforts to resettle Palestinian refugees in exile and its leadership increasingly demands international recognition of the State of Israel as an exclusive Jewish state. As the Oslo negotiations falter forward, Israel attempts to legitimize ‘land swaps’, annexation of Area C, and control over natural resources especially fresh water. Additionally, Israel displaces Palestinians particularly targeting the Gaza Strip, the Jordan Valley, East Jerusalem and the Naqab.




As a consequence, Palestinians live under military control in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, under institutional discrimination within Israel-proper and East Jerusalem, and in heartbreaking conditions throughout the exile.


Palestinians previously seeking refuge in Syria are living a multiplied catastrophe. They are undergoing war, further displacement, and the destruction of their lives in Yarmouk, Nierab, Sit Sainab, Khan Al Shiekh, Dar’a and other locations throughout Syria where Palestinian refugees resided. Palestinians doubly displaced to countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt face further humiliation and unbearable conditions leading many Palestinians to attempt escape by sea – a desperate act resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian refugees and those who disappeared without public acknowledgment.


66 years of continuous displacement instructs the Palestinian people to revert to our fundamental principles of justice and equality, and place faith in our people across the globe rather than incapacitated international and Palestinian institutions. This era calls for a return to the basics.


We, the undersigned organizations, affirm the following:


1. After 66 years of targeted displacement by the Israeli regime, 66 percent of the Palestinian people are refugees or Internally Displaced Persons. Both in principle and practice, the Right of Return is a necessary condition for achieving self-determination of the fragmented and exiled Palestinian body politic;


2. International law endows Palestinian refugees with the right to voluntary return to their homes, to restoration of their properties and to compensation. This inalienable Right of Return is not subject to negotiation, bartering, surrender or expiration;


3. Displaced Palestinians hold the Right of Return collectively and individually. The right is only fulfilled when an individual is able to exercise his or her free choice;


4. United Nations resolution 181 (1947) to partition Palestine into two states led to the displacement of between 750,000 and 900,000 Palestinians. Thus, the international community codified its responsibility to provide legal and physical international protection, humanitarian assistance and enable the Right of Return to the homes of origin for all refugees and displaced Palestinians through General Assembly resolution 194 (1948) and Security Council resolution 237 (1967);


5. The Palestinian people’s heroic resilience and resistance to Israel’s denial of the Right of Return, to ongoing displacement of Palestinians and to absent international protection requires that an institution such as the Palestine Liberation Organization be based on authentic representation and inclusivity.


Longing for freedom and liberation, we say YES to Palestinian representation and holistic international protection, and NO to detracting from any of the rights of refugees.




Signed by the following organizations, institutions and coalitions:




1. BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights


2. Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI)


3. Defence for Children International - Palestine


4. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association


5. Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights "Hurryyat"


6. Popular Struggling Coordination Committee (PSCC)


7. Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)


8. Kairos Palestine


9. Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem


10. Union of Health Work Committees


11. Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights


12. Golan for development


13. Alternative Information Center


14. Alternative Tourism Group


15. Joint Advocacy Initiative


16. Land Research Center (LCR)


17. Palestine land Society


18. Environmental Education Center


19. Baladna - Association for Arab Youth - Palestine


20. The Palestinian Center of Youth Action for Community Development (LAYLAC)


21. Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp


22. Popular Committee for Refugees, Qalqeliah


23. Popular Committee for Refugees, Salfit


24. Social Youth Center, Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp


25. Social Youth Center, Aida Refugee Camp


26. Muntada Al-Tawasol Association, Gaza


27. Shoruq Association, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp


28. Ansar Center, Walajeh


29. Ibda’a for the Development of Children Capacity, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp


30. Al- Rowwad Center, Aida Refugee Camp


31. International Women's Peace Service/ Palestine


32. International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)


33. Union of Arab Jurists- Geneva


34. General Arab Women Federation


35. Housing and Land Rights Network/ Habitat International Coalition


36. International Youth and Students Movement at the UN


37. Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP)


38. Association Latino-Américaine Nueva Utopía


39. Geneva International Centre for Justice


40. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel- Spain


41. Red Solidaria contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP) –Spain


42. Asociacion Palestina Biladi- Spain


43. Slovenia Solidarity Committee- Slovenia


44. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement- Slovenia


45. Greece Committee for the Right of Return- Greece


46. Association of Tunisians in Switzerland- Switzerland


47. Tamkeen-Arab Group- Switzerland


48. Association Belgo-Palestinienne- Belgium


49. Palestina Solidariteit- Belgium


50. Friends of Al-Aqsa- United Kingdom


51. Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Italia- Italy


52. Palestina Rossa- Italy


53. Fronte Palestina- Italy


54. Rete di Solidarieta’ con la Palestina – Milano - Italy


55. Friends of Sabeel - Sacramento Region- United States of America


56. Palestinian Association of Stockholm- Sweden


57. Committee for Fair Peace in the Middle East (CPJP) - Luxembourg


58. Finnish-Arab Friendship Society- Finland


59. French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP) - France


60. Nederlands Palestina Committee (NPK)- the Netherlands


61. Palästinensische Gemeinde Deutschland (PGD) e.V.- Germany


62. Palästinensische Gemeinde Bonn e.V.- Germany


63. Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Group Bonn - Germany


64. Palestine Aid – North Ireland


65. Society for Austro-Arab Relations- Austria


66. Women in Black- Vienna- Austria


67. Services and Research Centre Palestine - the Netherlands


68. Solidarity for Development and Peace(SODePAZ)- Spain


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