Refugee Voices

‘Message Received?’ Opinions on the Geneva Accords


This summary was originally published in Arabic in Haq al-Awda (January 2004). To read the full version, see the BADIL website. The summary was drawn from more than 300 statements issued by individuals, institutions, and Palestinian national organizations.

The Palestinian National Council (PNC) has struggled in international fora and managed to obtain several resolutions that emphasized the right of refugees to return to their homeland. Hence, it is disallowed for any member of the PNC to take upon himself individually to participate in any activity that calls for renouncing the right to return whether it is within the framework of the Geneva Accords or any other framework.
Salim al-Zanoun, Chair, Palestinian National Council (PNC)
1 December 2003

The refugee problem is the core of the Palestinian people’s struggle. The refugee problem will only be solved through their return to their lands and country. The struggles and sacrifices of our people disallow any person to renounce any of our people’s rights. If the different peace initiatives presented to the Palestinian people and its leadership are going to be at the expense of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, then, may all these peace initiatives go to hell. We will not entitle anyone to trade in our martyrs’ blood. We will continue our resistance and struggle, which were granted to us by international law, in case we fail to gain our rights through peaceful means.
Rafik Al-Natsheh, former spokesperson, Palestinian Legislative Council
1 December 2003

So long as Israel is still committed to the principles that were adopted at the First Zionist Congress and refuses to renounce these principles, we as Palestinians cannot – in light of this reality – consider any of the peaceful initiatives presented to us. I am personally against all these initiatives until there is a clear change in the Israeli position, at least in recognizing our rights.
Haidar Abdel-Shafi, Head, the Palestinian Delegation to Madrid-Washington Peace Talks

The rebuilding of a new Palestinian negotiations strategy is an existing issue and belongs to the Palestinian people as a whole. This issue is expressed through national, democratic and Islamic Palestinian factions. It is disallowed for anyone to practice their own personal political actions, and with the same flames that burnt us for decades. The Geneva Accords are unbalanced. It is manufactured by an Israeli expansionist policy that we’ve experienced for long. Due to this policy, the Palestinian people continued their struggle against occupation in order to establish a balanced and comprehensive peace under the legitimate and international supervision.
Nayef Hawatmeh, Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
29 October 2003

The Geneva Accords are a deed of surrender and a grave offense. The Palestinian people along with the Arab and Muslim people cannot and will not accept it under any circumstance. This agreement effectively cancels the right to return for the Palestinian people who were uprooted from their lands and homes. It further transforms the “Promised” Palestinian state into a demilitarized protectorate with its open space, water and borders wide open for the occupation’s forces.
The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)
1 December 2003

Based on our commitment to Palestinian national rights and the rights of the Arab nation as a whole, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine condemns the Geneva Accords that are directed against the Palestinian people and its future generation’s goals and aspirations. The main goal of this initiative is to eliminate the right to return for the Palestinian refugees in exile who were uprooted from their lands. The initiative will lead to the cancellation of Resolution 194, which affirms refugees’ right to return to their homeland and villages they were coercively uprooted from in 1948.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Political Bureau
30 November 2003

The Geneva Accords do not reflect the position of the refugees. It reflects the personal positions of its signatories. This initiative presents a major degradation from the consecutive national council resolutions. Therefore, this initiative will not accomplish anything for our Palestinian people; in fact, it will broaden the disagreements within Palestinian society. I call for foiling and resisting the Geneva Accords. I request the signatories to retract and declare their commitment to the national goals of the Palestinian people.
Husam Khader, Prisoner, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and Head of the Defense Committee for the Rights of Palestinian Refugees
12 November, 2003

The Islamic Jihad movement rejects and condemns the Geneva Accords. The movement considers this initiative as part of the Zionist war waged by the Sharon government, an extension to the collusive plan, and negligence to our people’s sacrifices, and a detachment from the people’s consensus.
Sheikh Sharif Al-Tahayneh, Islamic Jihad Movement
1 December 2003

The Geneva Accords are an unofficial document and do not reflect the position or opinions of the FATEH movement. It does not correspond to the aspirations of the Palestinian people. We stress that no one has the right to strive to reach fateful decisions on behalf of the Palestinian people without referring to the people’s democratic and national official bodies.
The Palestinian National Liberation Movement (FATEH), Southern Province
29 November 2003

The content and the articles of the Geneva Accords are far below the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. It does not represent the national consensus, and extremely harms our national rights embodied in our national and central councils’ resolutions in their successive terms.
Members of the Palestinian National Council residing in Jordan
3 December 2003

I want to emphasize the sacredness of the right to return. I consider it the cornerstone of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. I herewith condemn the Geneva Accords, which is yet anther conspiracy that oversteps legitimate international resolutions, especially the ones related to the right to return, which was reaffirmed by the United Nations more than 130 times. This initiative also negatively affects our national rights.
Abdel Fattah Ghanem, Presidential Advisor on Refugee Camp Affairs
2 December 2003

The legitimate representative of our people embodied in the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole representative of our people, and the sole representative capable of conducting any political negotiations related to our national problem. Individuals that show up every now and then, and ignore the suffering and sacrifices of our people do not represent our legitimate rights. We call upon them to put an end to their actions that are inconsistent with the legitimate Palestinian frameworks and in a period in which our people are bleeding and being exposed to the worst of Israeli state terror. We reiterate our steadfast and continued commitment to the national rights of our people including the Palestinian refugees’ right to return in accordance with Resolution 194, and our right to self determination and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Emergency Committee for Islamic and National Forces
19 October 2003

The Geneva Accords free the Zionist movement and the Hebrew State from its moral and political responsibility towards the creation of the refugee problem in 1948. The initiative also ignores the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict through ignoring the Nakba and moving forward to the June 1967 war that resulted in the occupation of the rest of Palestine. It provides for a direct and clear renunciation of the Palestinian people’s national rights, which were affirmed by international conventions and United Nations’ resolutions, namely Resolution 194. This resolution, according to our opinion, consists of three main correlated rights: the refugees’ right to return to their original land, which they were uprooted from in 1948, the right to restitution, and the right to compensation based on standards of international law.
The Palestinian Coalition for the Right to Return, Lebanon and Syria Office (Beirut)
6 December 2003

Our task in defending the Palestinian refugees’ right to return and in confronting any settlement plans is a national, regional and an Islamic task. This task is part of a framework that aims at revitalizing our common national and regional responsibility in confronting the Israeli occupation and the Zionist expansionist policy. Only through the unification of our parties and forces in facing our common enemy, can our nation regain its extorted rights. The right to self determination cannot prevail without a comprehensive right to return. The unity of the Palestinian people is a basic requirement that must exist in order to exercise our right to return and self determination.
Tala’t Abu Othman, Press Secretary, Committees for Defending the Right to Return, Jordan
15 December 2003

We, and all our Palestinian people, at home and in exile, emphasize our adherence to our national rights, most importantly our right to return and our right to a fully sovereign and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. We declare our absolute rejection of the Geneva Accords and its free concessions because it harms our national rights. It also carries in its folds many dangers that threaten our people’s legitimate national rights. We call upon the Palestinian leadership to declare its clear rejection towards this initiative, in addition to lifting the political mantle from all signatories. We call upon the Arab governments and the international community’s institutions to withhold any official legitimacy to the initiative because it contradicts Arab and international resolutions.
Palestinian Youth Organizations and Institution in Sour, Lebanon; the Social Communication Center (Ajyal); the Islamic Club for Palestinian Students; Jerusalem Club for Palestinian Students; the Democratic Youth Union; the Palestinian Progressive Youth Organization; the Palestinian Youth Organization; the Youth of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front; the Youth of the Palestinian People’s Party; and the Youth of the Palestinian Liberation Front
15 December 2003

The Yasser Abed Rabbo, Beilin and Ayalon initiatives are only attempts to add legitimacy to the ethnic cleansing plan and to sentence the refugees to a life of expulsion away from their homeland. We do not acknowledge any attempt to eliminate the right to return, and the individuals that promote such attempts do not represent the Palestinian people. We call upon the world to support us and stand closely beside us in order to spread peace in the Middle East.
Palestinian organizations and members of the Palestinian National Council working in the field of the right to return in Lebanon. Among the signatories: “Aidoun” Group, Protective Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Organization for Human Rights, the Palestinian Institution for Human Rights, “Al-Awda” Palestine Center, Committees Union for the Right to Return, the Palestinian NGO’s Coordination Body, the General Union for Palestinian Women, Group “194”, “We will definitely return” Assembly, the General Union for Doctors, the General Union for Labor Syndicates in Palestine, the Arab Women Solidarity Association, the Palestinian Democratic Women Organization, Social Solidarity Association, Union for Palestinian Youth Centers, Families of Martyrs Organization, Palestinian Engineers Assembly and Union for Palestinian Democratic Youth
December 2003

We condemn the Geneva Accords especially the dangerous concessions it provided regarding the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the lands they were uprooted from by force and massacre. This initiative does not represent the people, in fact it contradicts our people’s aspirations and rights they unanimously agreed upon for decades. This initiative is a mean to add legitimacy to the ethnic cleansing plan against the 1948 part of Palestine, and to sentence the refugees to a life of expulsion away from their homeland. The individuals that promote such attempts do not represent the Palestinian people, and no one delegated them to give up our national rights.
Palestinian organizations in Europe: “Al-Awda” Palestinian Center (London), the Palestinian Community Assembly in Britain, the Right to Return Committees Coalition in Europe, Palestine Assembly in Austria, the Palestinian Emigrants Association in Austria, the Right to Return Coalition in Sweden, Roots Association (Switzerland), the Palestinian Emigrants Assembly in Norway, the Palestinian Emigrants Assembly in Holland, Al-Karmel Assembly (Holland), the Palestinian People Solidarity Association (Italy), the Palestinian Emigrants in Finland, the Right to Return Committees in Denmark, the Palestinian Emigrants Assembly in Odnesya (Denmark), Al-Aqsa Cultural Center (Denmark), the Palestinian – Ketlan Cultural Cooperation Association (Spain), the Palestinian Emigrants in Catalonia and Paliars (Spain)
December 2003

We call upon President Yasser Arafat to disqualify the Palestinian signatories of the Geneva Accords, and to exclude them from any political post within the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian National Authority. We call upon the Palestinian people especially refugees to enhance and empower their unity and struggle in order to avert all harms threatening their right to return to their lands and their right to restitution.
A letter addressed to President Yasser Arafat from social, popular and private Palestinian organizations for defending the right to return and the Intifada. Among the signatories: the Right to Return Committees Union, “Aidoun” Group, the Palestinian Return Assembly, “We will definitely return” Committee, “194” Group, the Palestinian Youth Forum, the Palestinian Democratic Cultural Forum, Land Committees for Defending the Right to Return, Youth Activities and Organizations’ Coordination Committee, the Palestinian Democratic Youth Union, the Women’s Committee in Supporting the Right to Return, Bisan for Social Development, the Palestinian Youth Organization, the Palestinian Democratic Women’s Organization, Ghassan Kanafani’s Cultural Forum, the Palestinian Popular Women’s Committee, the Palestinian Cultural Library, Palestinian FARAH Organization for Children, the Palestinian Cinema Club, Bisan Troup for Popular Arts, the Palestinian Youth Center (Jafra) and Martyr Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Club
23 October 2003

What is happening in Ramallah including killings, kidnappings and destruction clearly reveal Sharon’s intentions. What is happening in Geneva inside cozy rooms is an obvious perversion. The individual struggle to participate in such initiatives is only for the mere fact of reserving a wretched negotiation seat.
Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi, Secretary, the Palestinian National Initiative
2 December 2003

The signatories of the Geneva Accords do not represent the Palestinian people, they represent themselves only. The Palestinian position regarding this initiative stems from the Palestinian people at home and in refugee camps, whether inside or outside Palestine. I call upon the Palestinian people, including factions and grass-root organizations to confront the harms that this initiative might cause to the unity of the Palestinian people.
Abdallah Al-Hourani, Head of the Preparation Committee for Defending the Right to Return
1 December 2003

In the year 2000, the participants of the second Nazareth conference warned against conspiring or overstepping the right for return. The conference warned the Israeli side and drew the attention of the Palestinian side to the dangers mounting from signing any agreement that eliminates the right for return whether explicitly or implicitly. The participants announced their adherence to the right of return and their refusal to any alternatives for those rights, such as; compensation, or resettlement. Hence, any agreement similar to the Geneva Accords is considered void and invalid.
The Committee for Defending Refugees’ Rights in Israel
October 2003

To our people all over the world, we want to reaffirm our adherence to the fact that the right for return to our original lands is a right granted to us by all human, religious and international codes and resolutions. We reaffirm our rejection of the so-called Geneva Accords in form and in substance. Any political solution that does not provide refugees with a free and voluntary choice to return to their lands be considered null and void.
The Central Popular Committee for the Right for Return, FATEH Youth Organization, Union and Social Affairs and Women Organizations in Bethlehem Governorate
1 December 2003

We, the Popular Services Committees for Refugees, affirm our steadfast position regarding the issue of refugees. Our position, and according to international resolutions and human rights conventions, especially UN Resolution 194, affirms the right of refugees to return to the lands they were uprooted from and compensating them for all their years of refuge. Any talks or solutions that undermine our right of return is absolutely rejected.
Popular Committees in the Gaza Strip
13 October 2003