Right of Return

   The term applied to the long-standing Palestinian demand for the absolute return to Israel of Arab refugees from the War of Independence (1948—49). Proponents legitimize the demand in an interpretation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948. Israel has consistently rejected this interpretation, arguing further that the "right of return" does not exist in international law and that its implementation in the case of the Palestinians is impractical and a direct threat to Israel's national security. In the negotiations with the Palestinians at Camp David, Maryland, in July 2000 (Camp David II), Israel's prime minister Ehud Barak proposed a formula for addressing the Palestinian refugee question whereby the "right of return" would be applied exclusively to the West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state and with the number of actual returnees pegged to the state's absorptive capacity. Also part of Barak's proposal was the permanent resettlement of refugees in the Arab countries of their current residence, such as Lebanon, or in third countries; the limited repatriation of refugees to Israel on humanitarian grounds, including family reunification; and the establishment of an international fund to compensate the refugees for lost properties, to which Israel would contribute. In an exchange of letters with Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004, President George W. Bush of the United States stated inter alia that the "right of return" should be limited to the West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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