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Palestinian Refugees and the Negotiations for Permanent Status

Source: Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information

Survey Report,
August 2001

During the past year, IPCRI conducted 48 Town Meetings in nine refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza aimed at involving the refugee population more in the discussions concerning their own future. A report of those meetings can be found at http://www.ipcri.org/index1.html .

That report aims at presenting the findings of IPCRI staff as heard directly from the refugees who participated in the meetings.

At the conclusion of the two meetings, we conducted a public opinion poll amongst Palestinian refugees. This report deals with the opinions of Palestinian refugees and their views of issues regarding the right of return and negotiating the refugee issue.


The study included refugees from 1948 and displaced people from 1967. The sample included Palestinians distributed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank throughout 16 locations in camps, villages, towns and cities. A random sample of 1,830 was picked, from which 183 were dropped due to irregularities.

Trained researchers distributed surveys consisting of two forms, the first includes demographic information, the second contained the survey questions with multiple choice answers.

Population Totals:
The study was conducted in the following locations:

City Surveys:

Ramallah 32
Ein Arik (1) 20
Birzeit (2) 8
Nablus 16
Qataneh (3) 50
Gaza 11
Doha (4) 15
Tulkarm 180
Fara'a 90
Ama'ari 95
Qalandia 140
Aroob 135
Jabalia 298
Nuseirat 275
Khan Yunes 235
Shu'fat 47
(1) 8 km West of Ramallah
(2) Center for 45 refugee families
(3) 14 km northwest of Jerusalem. Registered refugees, owners of confiscated
(4) South of Beit Jala

Random Sample Selection:

  • A total of 1,830 samples were picked at random, collected as follows:
  • The study areas were divided into sectors, 4 in Gaza Strip and 12 in the West Bank.
  • A total of 34 field researchers (who are residents of the area) were recruited and trained.
    The sectors were divided into sub sectors and houses were selected at random from each sub sector. On person was interviewed from each 6th house. As for larger urban areas, assistance was located from UNRWA and local residents to determine target groups.
  • Detailed demographic information is retained about each participant's household.
  • Additional effort was spent in follow-up to collect late surveys and to insure surveys are accurate and complete.

Difficulties encountered while collecting the surveys include:

  • In light of the charged political environment, some of the participants refused to answer some of the questions.
  • Many participants felt that political decision makers never consider their opinions, thus, thought the effort was useless.
  • The study included several social classes; the field researchers found it particularly difficult to survey the elderly and the illiterate.
  • Some of the surveys were never returned, some required additional efforts to collect.
  • Some of the participants were harassed by bystanders who thought that participation of such survey indicated willingness to compromise

(figures are in percentages)

International legitimacy should be the basis for negotiating the refugee problem

78.3 Strongly agree
21.6 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
0.2 No opinion

International resolutions should be applied in resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, including UN Resolution 194.

67.5 Strongly agree
28.7 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
3.8 No opinion

The refugee problem is the core of the Palestinian problem

89.0 Strongly agree
10.9 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
0.1 No opinion

Lasting peace in the Middle East is tied to the return of the refugees to their homes

86.8 Strongly agree
11.8 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
1.3 No opinion

Compensation is not an alternative to return

81.5 Strongly agree
17.2 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
1.3 No opinion

Family reunification can be considered return

0.3 Strongly agree
4.8 Agree
26.1 Disagree
67.8 Strongly Disagree
1.0 No opinion

Return must be to exact places of original residence

90.9 Strongly agree
8.9 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
0.2 No opinion

Return means going back to the 1948 territories, not to PA controlled territories

90.8 Strongly agree
9.2 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
0.0 No opinion

Palestinian negotiators are capable of dealing with Israeli negotiators about the right of return

6.3 Strongly agree
12.6 Agree
52.9 Disagree
25.9 Strongly Disagree
2.3 No opinion

Israeli negotiators will stick to their positions about the refugees (meaning no return) even if it hinders reaching other agreements

85.9 Strongly agree
11.1 Agree
0.4 Disagree
0.1 Strongly Disagree
2.6 No opinion

Palestinian refugees will insist on their right of return regardless of where they are presently residing

84.8 Strongly agree
13.4 Agree
0.0 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
1.9 No opinion

Palestinian refugees will refuse resettlement where they currently reside

80.3 Strongly agree
18.9 Agree
0.2 Disagree
0.0 Strongly Disagree
0.6 No opinion

The right of return means:

2.9 Return to areas controlled by the PA
97.1 Return to original home towns

In the event that the refugees are given an opportunity to return, you will:

96.7 Return to your original home town
0.2 Will not return to your original home town
3.2 Don't know

If given the right to return to original hometown, would you accept living under Israeli sovereignty and citizenship

85.2 Yes
11.7 No
3.1 Don't Know

In your opinions, does the PLO have the right to concede on the right of return?

1.5 Yes
96.5 No
1.9 Don't Know

If given the following choices, which will you choose?

68.9 Return without compensation
2.4 A package combining compensation without return, family reunification and settling in PA areas.
3.6 Resettlement
23.7 There will be no solution
1.3 Don't know

What is your posit ion -as a refugee- should an unsatisfactory solution is reached?

0.9 Giving in to reality
1.7 Objecting and disputing the agreement
30.5 Finding other means to express rejection
64.5 Confrontations using force
2.4 Don't know

Do you support or object to the following phrase: "It is not possible to accept a peace agreement which does not include the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their native homelands".

97.4 I support
0.0 I object
2.6 I don't know

If it is mandated that compensation be provided as an alternative to return, you will accept

3.3 Individual compensation for each refugee
0.9 Collective compensation for the Palestinian State
93.1 Will not accept any compensation
2.8 Don't Know

IPCRI, founded in Jerusalem in 1988, is the only joint Palestinian-Israeli public policy think-tank in the world. It is devoted to developing practical solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

P.O. Box 9321, Jerusalem 91092
Temporary Office: Tantur
Telephone: 972-2-676-9460 Fax: 972-2-676-8011
Email: ipcri@ipcri.org
Gershon Baskin: gershon@ipcri.org
Zakaria al Qaq: law@ipcri.org
Peace Education Program: peace_education@ipcri.org
IPCRI's Environment and Water Program: environment@ipcri.org
Home Page: http://www.ipcri.org/index1.html

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