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Do the Palestinians have a "right of return"? - Honest Reporting Communiqué
Honest Reporting by E-mail | May 8, 2003

Posted on 05/08/2003 4:02:07 PM PDT by Tarsk

Communique: 8 May 2003


The claim to a Palestinian refugee "right of return" has become a sticking point in the effort to relaunch Mideast peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon declared that Palestinians must discard this long-controversial demand, but new Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas on Tuesday refused to do so.

In its report on this important exchange, the Associated Press erroneously stated: "Israel has always objected to the right of return for about 4 million Arabs who fled the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948, but never made renouncing the demand a condition for peace talks before."

In fact, no party has ever claimed that 4 million Arabs fled Israel during its War of Independence. The actual number of Arab refugees in 1949 was, according to Israeli sources, 538,000. The UN puts the figure at 720,000, while Palestinians have claimed up to 850,000.

A later reference in the AP article quotes a more accurate figure of 700,000. But with its earlier, inflated reference to 4 million, AP misrepresents the historical significance of the refugee issue and its supposed moral claim — precisely the goal of today's Palestinian negotiators.

As accurately reported by USA Today, the 4 million figure has been used by Palestinians and the UN to approximate the number of refugees and their descendants since 1949. This includes about 1.5 million Palestinians who have been absorbed into Jordanian society, and has only been used to calculate those who may now qualify for some form of UN aid.

Associated Press, supplying news to 15,000 media outlets, bears special responsibility to report accurately. In this case, the erroneous figure appeared in newspapers such as The Toronto Star and Chicago Tribune.

Comments to AP:

Comments to The Toronto Star:

Comments to Chicago Tribune:

HonestReporting encourages members to monitor their local media for the erroneous AP article, and to request a clear and immediate correction.


The AP was accurate in one respect — Israel has always objected to the Palestinian claim to a refugee "right of return" to property in today's Israel. On what basis has Israel objected?

1) Voluntary flight: As documented by Professor Efraim Karsh, the vast majority of refugees from the 1948 war were exhorted to do so by their Arab brethren, who urged them to make way for oncoming Arab armies intent on driving the Jews into the sea. Karsh estimates that only 5 to 10 percent were actively expelled by Israelis.

2) No legal basis: As documented by Professor Ruth Lapidoth, the claim to a Palestinian refugee "right of return" lacks basis under a) general international conventions, b) major UN resolutions, and c) relevant agreements between the two parties.

3) Regional precedent: At the time of the creation of the State of Israel, a similar number of Jews were expelled and dispossessed by Arab governments. The Arab states have never made any effort to compensate these Jews, who were absorbed by Israel. Despite having tremendous resources to do so, Arab states have refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees and have often worked to ensure they remain in poverty so as to use them as a political tool against Israel.

4) Effective destruction of Israel: Even diehard Israeli peaceniks such as writer Amos Oz acknowledge that "implementing the 'right of return' means eradicating Israel... It will make the Jewish people a minor ethnic group at the mercy of Muslims, a 'protected minority,' just as fundamentalist Islam would have it"; Oz's colleague A.B. Yehoshua states that the end of the Palestinians' tragedy will come when they cease focusing on returning to their homes in Israel proper and focus instead on returning to a Palestinian homeland.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Israel; News/Current Events

1 posted on 05/08/2003 4:02:07 PM PDT by Tarsk
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To: Tarsk
They have the right of return- to Jordon...where they came from in the first place ...
2 posted on 05/08/2003 4:19:03 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: Tarsk
Using the palestinan claim of right to return. I don't like my neighborhood, say there's to many jews, I leave and move out, I become pretty much homeless, I decide I want my old place back, there is a family living there now, I'm supposed to expect them to move out? Even better, the term "right to return" as far as I am concerned, should be referred to, and I wish all freepers would do it, call it "Israeli suicide solution".
3 posted on 05/08/2003 4:31:06 PM PDT by Sonny M ("oderint dum metuant".)
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To: Sonny M
ROR = proxy issue for a Second Holocaust.
4 posted on 05/08/2003 4:32:24 PM PDT by goldstategop ( In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: Tarsk
Israel can never agree to this. That is clear. So why do the Fab 4 put it in the roadmap? Perhaps it constitues a huge giveaway opportunity for the Palis so they can then demand huge concessions from Israel. It's either a guaranteed deal killer or a cynical trick. IMHO
5 posted on 05/08/2003 4:58:04 PM PDT by Bahbah
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To: Tarsk
You lose wars, you lose land. It's axiomatic. And the loser doesn't dictate when {if ever} the land is given back.
6 posted on 05/08/2003 5:04:24 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: joesnuffy
Wait a second here. What about Gaza. That belonged to Egypt, they should be allowed to return to Egypt and not forced to go to Jordan.
7 posted on 05/08/2003 5:55:05 PM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: Sonny M; Tarsk; taxcontrol; Cedric; All
For those who haven't seen the map changes of Palestine & Israel through the years, here's a link.>

8 posted on 05/08/2003 8:46:28 PM PDT by Susannah (Reformed Democrat of the 70's)
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To: Susannah
Informative article and maps.
9 posted on 05/08/2003 10:07:04 PM PDT by Hal1950
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