The Moscow conference which convened in the aftermath of the Madrid conference in 1991, culminated in the establishment of five committees within the framework of multilateral negotiations including the refugees committee. The refugees committee concluded five consecutive meetings, two in Ottowa, Canada in 1992, a third in Oslo in 1993, a fourth in Tunisia in 1993 and the fifth meeting in Turkey in 1994, the representative of the European Community defined the specific program of work of the refugees committee through a briefing at the Ottawa conference in 1992. He summed up this program in the following few paragraphs; “It is the creation of the most appropriate conditions for holding bilateral talks to the extent of facilitating the job of negotiators and positively responding to the requirements of the concerned peoples in the bilateral and multilateral peace tracks”.
The representative of the European Community also stressed the necessity for highlighting the political objectives to be accomplished since the problem of refugees is of a political nature. Therefore, it should not be discussed in the absence of the political aspects and must abide by international laws which recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
The PLO representative called for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 194, which entitles the Palestinian people equitable compensation and right of return. Though the majority of the participating delegations have considered the 194 resolution as a good basis for negotiations, the American delegation expressed its opposition to this resolution and threatened to ask for voting on this issue. In anticipating the influence of the US government, the PLO delegation was prompted to change his stand. It is worth noting that Israel didn’t send a delegation to attend his meeting.
In May 1993, the third conference was held in Oslo during ti, the Parepresentative reiterated the implementation of UN resolution 194 and 181. He stated according to resolutio273, Israel was made under the condition of its acceptance with these two resolution. The fourth meeting convened in the Tunisia capital, concentrated on the family reunification issue, particularly after the classification of Palestinian refugees into different categories including 1967 refugee. The representative of the Palestinian delegation disclosed the two types of refugees as follows:
The first category classified from the legal point of view as citizens of the
territories being occupied in 1967.
Their right of return was recognized by the Washington conference which witnessed the endorsement of the Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel. The issue of their return was referred to a committee consisting of the PLO, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. The main function of this committee was to draft modalities of their return.
The second category comprised the displaced Palestinian outside Palestinian
territories as a result of 1948 war.
Their status will be discussed within the framework of bilateral negotiations due to tackle permanent status issues by PNA and Israel. The declared Israel position within the framework of multilateral negotiations was revealed by the statement made by the Israeli delegation to the third meeting held in Oslo on the May 11, 1993. According to this statement, “Israel is mainly interested with all efforts being exerted to improve the standard of living for the Palestinian refugees and those contributing towards the removal of obstacle to ensure permanent peace in the region”. However the anticipated Israeli improvement should not substitute a final solution due to be discussed by the bilateral committee, since these improvements stand as a partial remedy to the problem. The just and lasting peace must respond to the political, ideological and national aspirations.
While discussing the future of the Palestinian refugees, the following prerequisites must be taken into consideration:
First: The Palestinian nationalist march succeed in politicizing the demands of the refugees. The refugee problem didn’t remain a purely economic or social issue, but became a political one as well. It responded to the humanitarian and national ambitions of the refugee in connection with the establishment of a political entity or a state at an advance stage through which he can preserve his national identity. The Palestinian people sacrificed hundreds of thousands of martyrs and injured during the long struggle to preserve his national identity.
Second: The political and the demographic composition of the Arab countries
accommodating the refugees, can not absorb more refugees. They constitute 10% of
the Lebanese population and the overwhelming majority are still living in camps.
In Jordan, about 39.4 percent of the total population are refugees. About 10.4
percent of the population of Jordan are still living in camps. Contrary to
Lebanon, the Jordanian government entitled the Palestinian refugees the right of
election. However, the Palestinian refugees residing in Jordan are classified
into three main categories according to their political affiliations:
A bulletin published by Don Pertes in 1973 showed that approximately 500,000 Palestinians are distributed throughout the Arab countries who are not living inside camps. They were deprived of identity cards and were required to have their problem solved. Half of the population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are from the 1948 refugees. However, 20 percent of the population is still living inside camps. Taking into account the poor situation of the economic infrastructures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, we can estimate the strenuous efforts and the high economic cost required to revive the economy of these areas.
Third: About 80 percent of Jewish ownership in Palestine in legal property,
duly registered and authenticated, belonging to the Palestinian refugees.
Furthermore, about 25 percent of buildings used by Jews in 1954 belonged to
Palestinian refugees. The Jews also seized 120.000 dunums of citrus fruits,
40.000 dunums of pine trees and 10,000 dunums of fruitful tress, 95 percent of
olive trees were previously owned by Palestinian refugees. At the end of the
British mandate rule over Palestine, refugee ownership was 2.5 folds more than
the Jews. The Jews also seized 4 million Palestinian ponds deposited at local
banks before the occupation of Palestine. Initial estimates put the 1990 value
of this seized amount at around 25 bilion US dollars. Such amount which Israel
is required to refund the refugees is ample to develop Palestinian territories
and absorb the return of refugees.
All preliminary social studies so far conducted on the Palestinian refugees indicate that they are entitled to fair compensation. The refugees are refusing to continue as a burden to international society.