Return, Resettlement, Repatriation:
The Future of Palestinian Refugees in the Peace Negotiations
Source: FOFOGNET Digest, 22 April 1996
by Salim Tamari, Institute
of Jerusalem Studies
Final Status Strategic Studies
Institute for Palestine Studies
Beirut, Washington, and Jerusalem
Appendix: Refugee Glossary
Multilateral Negotiations: Established in 1991 by
Madrid Peace Conference to supplement the Israeli-Palestinian,
and Israeli-Arab (Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan)bilateral
negotiations. Over 40 nations and international organization
are involved in the multi-laterals. They include five
working groups covering: disarmament, water, environment,
economic development and refugees. Syria and Lebanon
have boycotted the multi-laterals from the beginning.
The agenda of the MLs are determined in a Steering
Committee convened by the co-sponsors.
Refugee Working Group (RWG):
One of the five multi-laterals (qv) in which over
40 states and international organization discuss the
issue of Palestinian Refugees and their future in
the Middle East peace process. Their are six regional
parties to the RWG: Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Syria,Lebanon
and the Palestinians. Both Syria and Lebanon have
boycotted the RWG. The RWG has met six times (Moscow,
Ottawa [twice], Oslo,Tunis, Antalya, and Cairo). Canada
is the head of the RWG.
are technical meetings convened by the multilaterals
in between plenary sessions. The RWG has had a number
of intersessionals to discuss the seven themes of
the refugee committee. Those included intersessional
on the definition of the family (Tunis 1994), and
on refugee research and data basis (Oslo,1993-4),
and family reunification (Paris, 1994).
Co-Sponsors: Russia and
the US are the co-sponsors of the multi laterals according
to the terms set in the Madrid Peace conference. They
call for the steering committee and plenary sessions
of the MLs.
Shepherds: Shepherds are
the heads of sub-committees in the Multi-lateral negotiations.
The RWG has six shepherds: (1) France (family reunification);
(2) Norway (databases); (3) USA (Human Resource Development
and Job Creation; (4) Italy (public health); (5) Sweden(Child
Welfare); (6) The European Union (Economic development
and social infrastructure).
Gavel Holders: Gavel Holders
are the heads of the five working groups of the Multilaterals.
They set the agenda of each plenary in consultation
with the co-sponsors along the guidelines provided
in the steering committee. Canada is the 'gavel' of
the Refugee Working Group.Between 1992 and 1995 the
Gavel holder of the RWG was Marc Peron,a civil servant
from External Affairs who wrote the "Vision Paper
The Quadripartite Committee on Displaced Persons was
established by the terms of the Oslo Accords (DOP)
to discuss 'modalities for the admission of 1967 displaced
persons to the West Bank and Gaza.'It is made up of
delegates from Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Palestine.
The QPC met for the first time in Amman in March 1995.It
meets every three month at the ministerial level,
and monthly as a technical committee of experts.
Displaced Persons: Dps
are exiles from the West Bank and Gaza who lost their
homes during, and as a consequence of, the war of
1967. Several meetings of the QPC were taken by the
issue of defining who is included by the term 'displaced
Refugee: The term 'refugee'
designates Palestinians who lost their homes in 1948
in the areas that became later the state of Israel.
UNRWA defines a Palestinian refugee as those permanent
residents of Mandate Palestine in the years 1946-1948
who lost their homes and became exiles from the territories
over which Israeli established control in the war
of 1948. There were attempts made in the RWG to include
in the term 'refugees' Jewish refugees to Israel,
and other refugee minorities in the Middle East (Kurds,
Southern Lebanese,etc.) but those were not accepted
by the plenary of the RWG.
The Bajolet Report: Guidelines
for enhancing the procedures for Family Reunification
in the Occupied Territories made after the recommendations
of the head of the French Shepherd to the RWG, Bernard
Bajolet. The main features of this report stress the
need for transparency in the procedures for FR schemes,
and monitoring mechanisms for measuring progress made
in implementing these procedures.
Vision Paper: A paper
presented to the RWG by Marc Peron, Canadian head
of the Committee between 1992-1995, to break the deadlock
reached by negotiations over refugees. The paper attempts
to open for debate what it calls 'taboos', such as
the 'right of return' and 'resettlement of refugees.'
of the Hebrew term for Palestinian residents of the
West Bank and Gaza who lost their residency in the
period (1967-1995) while travelling outside the country.
The Israeli Military Administration has a policy of
cancelling the residency of citizens who stay more
than 3 years abroad. There are more than 120,000 such
cases and they are being negotiated in the QuadripartiteCommittee.
Oslo 2: The Interim Agreement
on the West Bank and Gaza Strip which was signed in
Washington on September 28th, 1995 containing significant
guidelines for establishing residency for returning
Palestinians (see Appendix 2, below).