"...if people become accustomed to the large figure and we are actually obliged to accept the return of the refugees, we may find it difficult, when faced with hordes of claimants, to convince the world that not all of these formerly lived in Israeli territory. It would, in any event, seem desirable to minimize the numbers...than otherwise."
--Israeli official Arthur Lourie in a letter to Walter Eytan, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (ISA FM 2564/22). From Benny Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-49", p. 297.--
%% "If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force...."
--Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000.--

That every Palestinian has a legitimate, individual right to return to his or her original home and to absolute restitution of his or her property.

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How did the refugees become refugees?

In the 1948 war that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel in 77 percent of Palestine, some 750,000 Palestinians were displaced and dispossessed of their homes and land. Approximately 100,000 Palestinians remained in the territory that became the state of Israel and subsequently were nationalized as Israeli citizens. Some 40,000 of these Palestinians were internally displaced from their land and homes and most were prevented from returning even though they became Israeli citizens.

Following the 1948 war, apart from a small number who have returned under family reunification arrangements, most refugees have been unable to exercise their right of return. The state of Israel has consistently rejected the Palestinian right of return, except for a conditional offer to accept 100,000 refugees in the early 1950's which was later withdrawn. In 1950 the United Nations set up a special agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), to provide for relief services for the refugees scattered in camps throughout the region.

In the 1967 war, some 350,000 Palestinians became refugees, many for the second time. Today there are around 5 million Palestinian refugees, about 70 percent of the total Palestinian population. They are scattered in 59 refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and individually throughout the world. Two of the primary demands by refugees are return and compensation as provided for under UN Resolution 194 of 1948.

Source: Badil

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