“Recent Israeli statements claiming readiness to engage with the Arab Initiative, if Arab states dropped the clause on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in accordance with UN Resolution 194, is nothing but yet another attempt to deceive Arabs and Palestinians and obtain free concessions … Any compromise of the rights of the refugees stands for the continuation of the Nakba (catastrophe) inflicted upon the Palestinian people since 1948 and perpetuates the conflict with Israel,” say Palestinian civil society organizations to Arab leaders convening today, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the summit of the Arab League.
The memorandum, submitted to the Arab Summit and published in the Palestinian press today, is endorsed by 76 organizations and networks of Palestinian civil society in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Europe, and North America.
The memorandum reminds Arab states that the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties is an inalienable individual and collective right which is enshrined in international law and not limited in time. “Therefore,” says Palestinian civil society, “this right is not up for negotiations. Political initiatives and negotiations can address only the modalities of its implementation under UN Resolution 194.”
The memorandum also calls upon the Arab Summit to take measures for ending the plight of Palestinian refugees in Iraq and to set up a mechanism that will ensure effective protection and implementation of the right of return of Palestinian refugees through cooperation with the concerned international agencies, foremost UNRWA and UNHCR. In this context, Palestinian civil society proposes that a permanent Arab League follow-up committee be formed to improve and ensure the protection of Palestinian refugees in Arab states under the 1965 Casablanca Protocol. At the same time, the Arab League is asked to study, in cooperation with the PLO, ways for reactivating the dormant UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) mandated to assist with the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ right of return under UN Resolution 194.
For the full text (in Arabic) of the Palestinian civil society memorandum to the 2007 Arab League Summit, see: www.badil.org