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Appeal from Palestinian & Arab Non-Governmental Organizations to the Arab Summit

Appeal from Palestinian & Arab Non-Governmental Organizations to the Arab Summit

"Enhancement of legislative and constitutional reform in Arab states, and closing the gap between national legislation and international standards and human rights laws in general and refugee rights in particular, will result in a more dignified life for Palestinian refugees under Arab patronage until they return to their lands” states the Palestinian Right-of-Return Coalition. The Coalition initiated a joint appeal to Arab states for respect of Palestinian refugees’ right of return and their right to physical and legal protection in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories and in Arab host countries.

The appeal, endorsed by 31 Palestinian and Arab civil society organizations, is scheduled to be presented to Arab states at the upcoming summit, originally scheduled for March 2004. The appeal is based on the conclusions of the 3rd BADIL Expert Seminar convened in Cairo in early March, suggesting that incorporation of Palestinian refugees and their right of return into an indigenous strategy for human rights and democratic reform would not only benefit the refugees themselves, but also address one of the greatest political concerns in the region, i.e. the unresolved conflict with Zionist Israel and forced resettlement of millions of Palestinian refugees.

While little remains known about the concrete reasons for the postponement of the 2004 Arab Summit initially scheduled to be held in Tunis at the end of March, rumors suggest that it was motivated by disagreement among Arab states about how to respond to U.S. and European pressure for democratic reform and further concessions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Confronted with the U.S. ‘Greater Middle East Initiative,’ Arab civil society organizations are calling for an indigenous Arab reform program including a firm stand in support of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

The full text of the Palestinian & Arab NGO appeal to the Arab Summit is reprinted in ‘Documents’ in this issue.

Upcoming Events

Sustainable Struggle: The Road to Palestine
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition’s 2nd Annual National Convention
Brookdale Campus of Hunter College, New York, NY, 16-18 April 2004-04-02

On 16-18 April 2004, activists and organizers will come together at the Brookdale Campus of Hunter College, New York, NY for the Second International Convention of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. This convention will encompass workshops, keynote presentations and strategy sessions geared toward enhancing knowledge, organizing and developing the North American and international movement for the Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees. The convention will be a groundbreaking assembly, bringing together active voices from North America and abroad for a weekend of education, training, empowerment, and continued building of the movement for Palestinian self-determination and return.

Speakers include: Dr. Karma Nabulsi, PLO representative from 1977 to 1990, and Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, former member of the Palestine National Council and General Coordinator of the Palestinian Right of Return Congress

For more information see, www.alawdaconvention.org.
 

Haq al-Awda – BADIL’s Arabic-language magazine



BADIL's Arabic-language magazine, Haq Al-Awda (Right of Return), printed and distributed to some 30,000 households in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories as a supplement to the Ramallah daily Al-Ayyam is now available in electronic format on the BADIL website.

Haq Al-Awda was begun as a pilot project in 2003. Due to the strong demand, the magazine will be published on a bi-monthly basis in 2004. The first 24-page issue of 2004 included public reaction to the Geneva Accords; a BADIL study of peace agreements over the past decade showing how they contain provisions for human rights, refugee rights and a role for public participation in making and enforcing the agreements; and a report on a recent BADIL fact-finding visit to South Africa that studied the process of land restitution and reconciliation in the post-Apartheid era.

Haq Al-Awda also covered recent BADIL activities including the 4th annual meeting of the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition (London, November 2003), and the BADIL Expert Forum in Ghent, Belgium on the role of international law in peacemaking and crafting durable solutions for Palestinian refugees (May 2003). The latest issued also carried an interview with Eitan Bronstein, Director of the Israeli Zochrot Association which seeks to raise awareness within Israel of the Palestinian refugee issue and Israel's role in creating the refugee problem; the conclusions of the Joint British Parliamentary inquiry on Palestinian refugees plus field reports from Kalandia, Rafah and Tulkarem refugee camps.

The BADIL Arabic-language newspaper supplements are part of BADIL's efforts to provide information on refugee rights and encourage community participation.

To read Haq Al-Awda online visit the BADIL website: www.badil.org.