A Note on the Palestinian “Refugees”

In my previous blog, I mentioned the millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees” whose  “Right of Return” Abu Maazen is demanding as part of any peace treaty with Israel. Let’s just examine those figures.

In the aftermath of World War Two, there were literally millions of refugees and displaced persons throughout Europe. The number of Palestinian refugees  in the aftermath of the Israeli War of Independence was estimated by the UN as between 711,000 and 726,000. UNRWA itself puts the figure at some 750,000. At the same time, over 800,000 Jews fled Arab lands, most of them settling in the fledgeling State of Israel, which absorbed them with not one dollar of aid from the United Nations. Compare this to the Arab states which kept their Palestinian refugee population in refugee camps. Moreover, while Jordan did, at least, grant the Palestinians in her territory Jordanian citizenship (in fact, “Palestinians” make up the majority of the Jordanian population, especially when you consider that Jordan was created from that part of the Mandated Territory of Palestine east of the River Jordan), the Egyptians kept them bottled up in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees was established in December 1949, in the wake of the Israeli War of Independence, to  carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. Despite the considerably larger number of European refugees, it was not for another year (December 1950) that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was founded.

UNHCR’s definition of “refugee” is, according to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,  a person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”

Under UNRWA’s operational definition, Palestine refugees are  “people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict”. Not only that – UNRWA’s sweeping definition  encompasses also the descendants of the original refugees, as we can see from UNRWA’s own website.  Palestinians are the only group of refugees able to “bequeath” their refugee status to their descendants. Furthermore, Palestinians are the only group of refugees in the world to have a United Nations agency dedicated specifically and uniquely to helping them. One cannot help but wonder – why?

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About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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One Response to A Note on the Palestinian “Refugees”

  1. Rachel says:

    שבוע טוב

    את כותבת יפה ולעניין

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