"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours."
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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Most of the Arab countries hosting the majority of the Palestinian refugees are reluctant -- or, in the case of Lebanon, unwilling -- to accept the Palestinian refugees living in their territory on a permanent basis and with full civil rights.
There can be little doubt that the predicament of these Palestinians is epitomized in Lebanon. The second largest community in the diaspora, the Palestinians in Lebanon face the greatest hardship and the most difficult situation. As 1948 refugees from the Galilee and coastal towns, their return to their places of origin has been denied in the face of absolute Israeli opposition.
Equally, the Lebanese government refused to accept or settle the Palestinians within its borders. In post-war Lebanon, official policy towards Palestinians appears to have three objectives: to re-assert state control, to refuse "implantation" or settlement, and to reduce the number of refugees through pressures on them to leave.
A few refugees have been granted Lebanese nationality, but for the majority, denied any civil or political rights since their arrival, restrictions are being applied ever more harshly.
Palestinian refugees have no rights to employment or state services. Reconstruction of the refugee camps destroyed by war has been prohibited, as has reconstruction around existing refugee camps or any new building, causing acute housing shortages.
Besides such physical pressures, the Lebanese government is also using a variety of means to deny re-entry to Palestinians, even if they have valid residency rights. In the face of such difficulties, Palestinian refugees are increasingly dependent on UNRWA which is reducing its services and on local NGOs, which while dynamic are themselves facing severe reductions in funding.
In Jordan, where Palestinian refugees enjoy full civil rights, they are perceived as a potentially destabilizing factor in national politics and thus kept under the special scrutiny of state intelligence.
The approach of these Arab governments towards the Palestinian refugees is dominated by considerations of state security, a result of their undemocratic political structure and the leadership's policy of instrumentalizing the Palestinian cause for their own political aims and alliances in the region.
Palestinian refugees are the victims of this approach, their lives and access to basic human and civil rights being determined almost solely by changing political circumstances which are beyond their control.