Towards Final Status
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Click Here for the Appendix
Resolving the issue of Refugees
1 - Refugees Under Madrid and Oslo
2 - Background
3 - The Israeli Position
4 - The Palestinian Position
5 - During the Interim Period
6 - Proposals

3 - The Israeli Position

Israeli officials reject the claim of absolute "right of return" for all Palestinian refugees and displaced persons on several points. According to Israel, the absolute right of return for all Palestinian refugees and displaced persons is a direct threat to Israeli statehood. There are concerns that the return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their offspring would interfere with the area's demographic composition. Further, some fear that a number of refugees might constitute a security threat and upon readmission could band with other Palestinian extremists to target Israel. Instead, Israelis contend that an agreement on the refugee situation should be based on three interrelated components: resettlement of refugees and their descendants in the nations where they currently reside, international efforts to improve quality of life in refugee camps, and restricted readmission based exclusively on humanitarian considerations.

Moreover, refuting the central Palestinian claim for absolute right of return, Israelis argue that U.N. Resolution 194 was only passed with the status of a non-binding recommendation. Other Israelis argue that absolute "right of return" is inconsistent with historical circumstances because the Palestinian refugee and displaced persons problem is a direct result of the 1948 and 1967 wars, which were forced upon Israel by relentless hostility from her Arab neighbors.

The first round of final status negotiations on the bilateral level between Israel and the Palestinians opened in May 1996. As the two sides prepared to begin addressing the most sensitive and difficult issues of the entire peace process, on the issue of refugees, Israel maintained that it would offer conditioned compensation based on reciprocal compensation for the property of Jews expelled from Arab countries. In private, however, Israeli officials say they expect that in the end most refugees, with the exception of those in Lebanon under unique circumstances, will remain in place aided by international funds, with continued limited readmission based on humanitarian conditions.

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