66 years of ongoing Nakba – Back to Basics: The Right of Return is a national and inalienable right

On the 66th commemoration of the Nakba, the movement for Palestinian liberation is in disarray. Political parties are divided, the Palestine Liberation Organization is dysfunctional, the Palestinian Authority is dependent on foreign donors with ulterior agendas and a collective national strategy is absent. Institutions do not fulfill their purposes and the Palestinian people’s capacity for grassroots mobilization is frayed.
These elements provide an opportunity for the Israeli regime to unilaterally impose ‘facts on the ground’ and its advocate, the USA, to strong-arm an unjust political solution. Both developments undermine the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees – the core of the Palestinian cause.
Israel denies the Right of Return to the homes of origin for 7.4 million Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Meanwhile, Israel maintains efforts to resettle Palestinian refugees in exile and its leadership increasingly demands international recognition of the State of Israel as an exclusive Jewish state. As the Oslo negotiations falter forward, Israel attempts to legitimize ‘land swaps’, annexation of Area C, and control over natural resources especially fresh water. Additionally, Israel displaces Palestinians particularly targeting the Gaza Strip, the Jordan Valley, East Jerusalem and the Naqab.
As a consequence, Palestinians live under military control in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, under institutional discrimination within Israel-proper and East Jerusalem, and in heartbreaking conditions throughout the exile.
Palestinians previously seeking refuge in Syria are living a multiplied catastrophe. They are undergoing war, further displacement, and the destruction of their lives in Yarmouk, Nierab, Sit Sainab, Khan Al Shiekh, Dar’a and other locations throughout Syria where Palestinian refugees resided. Palestinians doubly displaced to countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt face further humiliation and unbearable conditions leading many Palestinians to attempt escape by sea – a desperate act resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian refugees and those who disappeared without public acknowledgment.
66 years of continuous displacement instructs the Palestinian people to revert to our fundamental principles of justice and equality, and place faith in our people across the globe rather than incapacitated international and Palestinian institutions. This era calls for a return to the basics.
We, the undersigned organizations, affirm the following:
1.     After 66 years of targeted displacement by the Israeli regime, 66 percent of the Palestinian people are refugees or Internally Displaced Persons. Both in principle and practice, the Right of Return is a necessary condition for achieving self-determination of the fragmented and exiled Palestinian body politic;
2.     International law endows Palestinian refugees with the right to voluntary return to their homes, to restoration of their properties and to compensation. This inalienable Right of Return is not subject to negotiation, bartering, surrender or expiration;
3.     Displaced Palestinians hold the Right of Return collectively and individually. The right is only fulfilled when an individual is able to exercise his or her free choice;
4.     United Nations resolution 181 (1947) to partition Palestine into two states led to the displacement of between 750,000 and 900,000 Palestinians. Thus, the international community codified its responsibility to provide legal and physical international protection, humanitarian assistance and enable the Right of Return to the homes of origin for all refugees and displaced Palestinians through General Assembly resolution 194 (1948) and Security Council resolution 237 (1967);
5.     The Palestinian people’s heroic resilience and resistance to Israel’s denial of the Right of Return, to ongoing displacement of Palestinians and to absent international protection requires that an institution such as the Palestine Liberation Organization be based on authentic representation and inclusivity.
Longing for freedom and liberation, we say YES to Palestinian representation and holistic international protection, and NO to detracting from any of the rights of refugees.
Signed by the following organizations, institutions and coalitions:
1.       BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
2.       Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI)
3.       Defence for Children International - Palestine
4.       Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
5.       Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights "Hurryyat"
6.       Popular Struggling Coordination Committee (PSCC)
7.       Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)
8.       Kairos Palestine
9.       Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
10.   Union of Health Work Committees
11.   Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
12.   Golan for development
13.   Alternative Information Center
14.   Alternative Tourism Group
15.   Joint Advocacy Initiative
16.   Land Research Center (LCR)
17.   Palestine land Society
18.   Environmental Education Center
19.   Baladna - Association for Arab Youth - Palestine
20.   The Palestinian Center of Youth Action for Community Development (LAYLAC)
21.   Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp
22.   Popular Committee for Refugees, Qalqeliah
23.   Popular Committee for Refugees, Salfit
24.   Social Youth Center, Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp
25.   Social Youth Center, Aida Refugee Camp
26.   Muntada Al-Tawasol Association, Gaza
27.   Shoruq Association, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp
28.   Ansar Center, Walajeh
29.   Ibda’a for the Development of Children Capacity, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp
30.   Al- Rowwad Center, Aida Refugee Camp
31.   International Women's Peace Service/ Palestine
32.   International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
33.   Union of Arab Jurists- Geneva
34.   General Arab Women Federation
35.   Housing and Land Rights Network/ Habitat International Coalition
36.   International Youth and Students Movement at the UN
37.   Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP)
38.   Association Latino-Américaine Nueva Utopía
39.   Geneva International Centre for Justice
40.   Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel- Spain
41.   Red Solidaria contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP) –Spain
42.   Asociacion Palestina Biladi- Spain
43.   Slovenia Solidarity Committee- Slovenia
44.   Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement- Slovenia
45.   Greece Committee for the Right of Return- Greece
46.   Association of Tunisians in Switzerland- Switzerland
47.   Tamkeen-Arab Group- Switzerland
48.   Association Belgo-Palestinienne- Belgium
49.   Palestina Solidariteit- Belgium
50.   Friends of Al-Aqsa- United Kingdom
51.   Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Italia- Italy
52.   Palestina Rossa- Italy
53.   Fronte Palestina- Italy
54.   Rete di Solidarieta’ con la Palestina – Milano - Italy
55.   Friends of Sabeel - Sacramento Region- United States of America
56.   Palestinian Association of Stockholm- Sweden
57.   Committee for Fair Peace in the Middle East (CPJP) - Luxembourg
58.   Finnish-Arab Friendship Society- Finland
59.   French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP) - France
60.   Nederlands Palestina Committee (NPK)- the Netherlands
61.   Palästinensische Gemeinde Deutschland (PGD) e.V.- Germany
62.   Palästinensische Gemeinde Bonn e.V.- Germany
63.   Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Group Bonn - Germany
64.   Palestine Aid – North Ireland
65.   Society for Austro-Arab Relations- Austria
66.   Women in Black- Vienna- Austria
67.   Services and Research Centre Palestine - the Netherlands
68.   Solidarity for Development and Peace(SODePAZ)- Spain
69.            Deutsch-Palästinensische Frauen Verein- Germany (German-Palestinian Women Association)
70.            Bundesverband Deutsch-Arabische Vereine- Germany (Federal Association of German-Arab clubs)
71.            Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Group Berlin- Germany