Palestinian Refugees Discuss with Dr. Salman Abu Sitta (Balata, Kalandia, Al-Arroub,Aida camps, West Bank, 2-4 September): In continuation of the public debate with Dr. Salman Abu Sitta launched in 1999, BADIL facilitated, one year later, a series of follow-up discussions with the Palestinian researcher. The comparison of the comments and questions raised by the refugee public in both occasions indicates that by the year 2000, the refugee community in 1967 occupied Palestine is more aware of its rights and has gained confidence in the practical-ity of its right of return to homes and properties in Israel. "What is to be done?", and, "How to set up proper mechanisms for the protection of collective and individual refugee rights?" are the questions which dominate the discussion between the refugee community and its experts today much more than in the past. Along this line, refugee community activists, members of the BADIL Friends Forum, decided to serve as the Prepara-tory Committee-West Bank for the initiative of establishing a "Palestinian Land Society", and to seriously study - in cooperation with Dr. Salman Abu Sitta - perspectives and mechanisms of this body which should represent Palestinian owners of rights in their future legal struggle.

www Reviving Popular Refugee Conferences - Election of a High Refugee Council: Current Palestinian and international right-of-return organizing was triggered, not to a little extent, by the popular initiatives for the defense of Palestinian refugee rights launched as a response to the Madrid-Oslo process by internally displaced Palestinians in Israel and refugees in 1967 occupied Palestine between 1995-96 (See BADIL Brief No. 3). Principles and guidelines for the current rightof- return campaign in Palestine were provided by three major popular conferences (Nazareth 1995; Deheishe and Gaza 1996). In 1967 occupied Palestine, these conferences failed to achieve their aim of electing popular refugee councils for several reasons, among them fear of political conflicts with the new Palestinian Authority and the PLO, and due to partisan intervention.

Now, four years later, refugee rights activists involved in the major refugee institutions in Palestine feel stronger and ready to make a  renewed effort. Some 100 representatives of popular refugee unions (Union of Youth Activity Centers, Union of Women's Activity Centers), the Popular Service Committees, the Society for the  Defense of the Rights of Internally Displaced in Israel, as well as local refugee committees, societies organizing refugees based on their villages of origin and BADIL, followed the invitation of the Palestinian Legislative Council's Refugee Subcommittee to a meeting at the Women's Activity Center in Shu'fat camp/Jerusalem on 6 September 2000. Participants discussed the mechanism required for the revival of the popular conferences and issued the following decisions:

1. To re-launch the initiative of popular refugee conferences which will express the popular demand for the implementation of refugee rights as defined in international law and UN Resolution 194 and demand from the Palestinian negotiators to cling to this position in the political negotiations with Israel after Camp David .
2. To form a Preparatory Committee composed of 29 representatives of popular refugee initiatives responsible for the preparation of an all-Palestine Conference; the Preparatory Committee is to raise awareness for Palestinian refugee rights in general, and the importance of the Conference in particular; to raise the popular demand for the continuation of adequate UNRWA services; and, to make the logistic arrangements for the Conference which will express refugee unity in Palestine and in the exile.
3. The All-Palestine Refugee Conference is to elect a High Refugee Council which will function as permanent secretariat for the period of two years. The elected Council well be responsible for intensive and systematic lobbying against the concession of refugee rights by Palestinian policy makers, and for building ties with Palestinian refugees in the diaspora.

Strategy Workshop for Palestinian Refugee Activists (Cyprus, October 2000): The establishment of new right-of-return initiativ-es worldwide, and the successful implementation of some concerted grassroots action, require an efficient mechanism of coordination and a joint plan of action. BADIL, the Trans-Arab Institute (TARI), Aidoun Lebanon, the Palestine Right-of-Return Coalition (al-Awda - USA, Canada, Europe), the Society for the Defense of the Rights of Internally Displaced in Israel, and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) have responded to this challenge by organizing a first strategy workshop of Palestinian refugee rights activists from Palestine, Jordan,
Lebanon, Syria, Europe and the United States. Proceedings and reports from this workshop will be dissemin-ated widely among right-of-return activists and networks in late 2000.