Molloy, Michael, John Bell, Nicole Waintraub, and Ian B. Anderson. “The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Intangible Needs and Moral Acknowledgment .” In Forced Migration, Reconciliation, and Justice (ed. Megan Bradley; Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015): 298-322.
The Palestinian refugee issue has long been framed in the West as a humanitarian problem to be resolved through a variety of practical measures. These measures include compensation for losses and suffering as well as providing the refugees with a range of options spelled out in the “parameters” circulated by President Bill Clinton just before the end of his term of office and after the Camp David negotiations failed. These options include return to a new Palestinian state; return to “swapped” areas (i.e., areas of present day Israel that would be ceded to the Palestinian state in return for parts of the West Bank now occupied by Israeli settlements); integration in host countries, Jordan and Syria in particular, where refugees already live; resettlement in western countries; and return of limited numbers and categories of refugees to Israel. From a Palestinian perspective, while practical solutions to their displacement are important, the issue is first and foremost a matter of rights, dignity, and international law. Palestinians view their case as in many ways unique, requiring resolution in accordance with their understanding of their rights as spelled out in UN General Assembly resolution 194 and international instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 13.2) and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the colonization of territory under military occupation.