Why do Zionists oppose the "legitimate right" of
return of the Palestinian Refugees?
Questions and answers about Zionism, Israel, the
Israeli-Palestinian (Palestine-Israel, Middle East) Conflict
Sionisme et l'Israel : Questions et réponses (FAQ)
If Zionists are not racists, why do they
oppose the "legitimate right" of return of the Palestinian Refugees?
Palestinian advocates claim that the refugees of 1948 have
a right guaranteed in international law to return to Israel. In fact, there is no such law. The Fourth Geneva
Convention, often cited in this context, does not stipulate a right of return for refugees. UN Resolution 194, also
cited as the basis for this "right" is a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Such resolutions are not binding in
international law. No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents. Moreover,
Resolution 194 does not insist on a
Right of Return. It says that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours
should be permitted to do so."
The refugees were not Israeli citizens. They did not want
Israeli citizenship. They were not willing to "live at peace with their neighbors." The Badil organization, which claims
to represent the refugees, says there can be no compromise with the "Zionist Enemy."
Admission of several million refugees would soon
create an Arab majority in Israel. This would violate the right of self-determination of the Jewish people, who would no
longer have a national home. The right of self-determination, guaranteed in the UN Charter, is recognized universally,
by Palestinians as well, as a jus cogens - compelling law, that takes precedence over other
considerations. The right of self-determination was the basis of creation of the Jewish state of Israel, and was cited
in the debates leading to the UN partition decision.
The people who advocate "Right of Return" also favor abolishing the Israeli Law of
Return that permits Jews to immigrate to Israel freely. Israel would cease to be the national home of the Jews, and the
Jewish people would lose the right to self-determination. Clearly "Right of Return" cannot be implemented if
it contradicts a different fundamental right that is anchored in international law.
For a more detailed discussion of this issue see:
Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees in International Law
This presentation about The Refugee Problem
outlines the differences in status for Palestinian Refugees and all
The Refugee Issue
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