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Palestinian refugee

Approximately 700,000 Palestinian refugees were created during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which led to the founding of Israel. These refugees were not able to return home and many have remained in refugee camps up to the time of writing.

The plight of the Palestinian Arab refugees (and their descendants, whom the UN also classifies as refugees) is one of the world's largest and most enduring refugee disasters. Discussions on allowing them to return to their former homes within Israel or to receive compensation have yet to reach a definite conclusion.

UN Resolution 194 was specifically enacted in order to protect the rights of Palestinian Arab refugees, while the United Nations set up an agency, UNRWA, specifically to protect them.

The great majority of Arabs living in Palestine had done so for generations. The refugees fled, and some were driven from their homes, prior to and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

UNRWA Ralph Galloway has stated that "The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die."

Jordanian MP Abd'Allah Nawass: "We shall be most insistent in perpetuating the Palestine problem as a life question The Palestine war continues by dint of the refugees only. Their existence leaves the problem open." (1952)

Israeli objections to the return of Palestinian Arabs to Israel include:

  • Israel was founded as a Jewish state to provide refuge to Jewish people, regardless of their ethnicity or previous nationality. To allow all Palestinian Arabs and their descendants, who have been bred on 50+ years of denial of the right of Israel to exist, to return home, would mean that Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state.

  • After the UN partition of Palestine, the Arab countries declared war on Israel. Most Israelis believe that the Arab countries are responsible for the fact that there were refugees on either side, including areas not part of the Jewish state in the partition plan. They believe that the Arab countries should have absorbed the Arab refugees. Many Palestinians agree that some Arab regimes have not treated them as well as they should but that if anything strengthens their claim to the right of return.

  • Approximately 900,000 Jews left Arab countries between 1945 and 1956, and Israel took in 600,000 of them. Some Jewish refugees were forced to abandon their property, especially. Palestinians claim that the fact that there are others who claim refugee status in the world does not limit their right of return.

See also Palestinian Exodus, Jewish refugees which were created indirectly as a consequence of the war.

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