Towards Final Status
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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

5 - During the Interim Period

The first meeting of the multilateral Quadripartite Committee, as established under the DOP, was held in May 1995 in Jordan. At that time, the delegates agreed to organize the committee into two panels. The first was to include the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan and Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath and was to meet every two to three months. It would oversee the activities of the second panel, which was to be comprised of technical experts. The technical panel would meet every three weeks to discuss issues regarding the 1967 displaced persons and to work on bridging the gap on matters related to Palestinian refugees. The panel of experts met for the first time in June 1995, and agreed to focus work on the following five-point agenda:

  1. Defining who is a displaced person
  2. Establishing the number of displaced persons
  3. Determining the modulations for admission of such people
  4. Undefined confidence-building measures
  5. Setting a deadline for admission of displaced persons

However, after a joint meeting of both panels in February 1996, when the delegates agreed on the need to form an additional committee to gather general information on the refugees, reports described both sides as being extremely far apart on such fundamental issues as the definition of refugees, how many actually exist and a possible timetable for readmission.

Since the outset of the DOP, Israel has made certain gestures with regard to Palestinian refugees, such as agreeing to allow Palestinians to return to areas of the West Bank and Gaza, in accordance with humanitarian principles and the internationally recognized criteria of family reunification. Since 1993, Israel has approved more than 2,000 cases of family reunification (involving 5,000 people) annually. Israel has also accorded permanent status to more than 6,000 Palestinians who originally arrived for temporary visits to the West Bank or Gaza, and who extended their stays beyond the dates allowed on their permits. A number of individuals deported in the early 1970s due to prior terrorist activities have also been permitted to return to the territories, together with their families.

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