Last updated on: 6/25/2008 2:33:00 PM PST

Are the Arab States Responsible for Palestinians Having Remained in Refugee Camps to This Day?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Bernard Lewis, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Near East Studies at Princeton University, in his 1995 book The Middle East, wrote:

"In the agonies of flight and expulsion, the Palestinian refugees shared the fate of millions of other victims of conflict who fled or were driven from their homes in India, in Eastern Europe, and elsewhere, in the bloody reshaping of the world after the Second World war. Their position, however, was unique in that, unlike all these others, they were neither repatriated nor resettled but were left or kept in camps where they and their descendants remains for generations as stateless refugees. The one exception was Jordan, where the Hashimite government...offered citizenship to all Arab Palestinians."

1995 - Bernard Lewis, PhD 

The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, in an entry posted to its website (accessed Dec. 3, 2003), titled "Questions and Answers (Q & A): Palestinian Refugees," stated the following:

"Arab states have refused to unilaterally resettle Palestinian refugees for a number of reasons:

  • Palestinian refugees themselves have expressed the wish to return to their homes and villages of origin, a wish respected by Arab states.
  • Some Arab states, Lebanon in particular, are opposed to resettlement because granting Palestinian refugees citizenship would change the sectarian status quo.
  • In 1948, Arab states opposed the creation of an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine. The League of Nations had previously recognized that Palestine - which was a non-self-governing territory formerly part of the Ottoman empire at the beginning of the 20th century - should become an independent state with equal rights for all of its citizens, including both Arabs and Jews."

  • Dec. 3, 2003 - BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights 

    PRO (yes)

    Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News & World Report, in a Nov. 3, 2003 article titled "Graffiti on History's Walls," wrote:

    "55 Years after they were first established [following the 1948 War], the Arab refugee camps still exist. With the exception of Jordan, the Arab governments home to these camps have refused to grant citizenship to the refugees and opposed their resettlement. In Lebanon, 400,000 stateless Palestinians are not allowed to attend public school, own property, or even improve their housing stock. Three generations later, they continue to serve as political pawns of the Arab states, still hopeful of reversing the events of 1948."

    Nov. 3, 2003 - Mortimer B. Zuckerman 

    Terence Prittie, the late British author and journalist, in a 1973 essay, "Middle East Refugees," published in the compilation The Palestinians: People, History, Politics, wrote:

    "There is no material reason, and there never has been, for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs to eke out wretched existences in the fifty or so refugee camps which were set up in the countries adjacent to Israel and as near Israel's frontiers as possible.

    In 1950 U.N.-sponsored plans for moving up to 150,000 refugees from the Gaza Strip to Libya were blocked by Egypt. In 1951 Egypt first agreed to allow 70,000 refugees from Gaza to be resettled in Sinai, but then withdrew permission. In 1952-1954 Syria turned down U.N. proposals for the resettlement of 85,000 refugees, to be paid for with international funds. In 1955, U.N.R.W.A. [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] reported that its rehabilitiation fund of $200 million, set up in 1952 to provide homes and jobs, remained completely unused.

    It is fair to say that , given a reasonable degree of Arab cooperation, at least 400,000 of the original refugees could have been resettled by the mid-1950s -- and in Arab lands where they would have been living among fellow-Arabs."

    1973 - Terence Prittie 

    Ralph Garroway, former director of the United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in a Apr. 15, 2002 Jerusalem Post article titled, "Abolish UNRWA," was quoted as saying the following in Aug. 1958:

    "The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die."

    Aug.1958 - Ralph Garroway 

    CON (no)

    Albert Hourani, the late Oxford University Professor of History, in a 1967 essay "Palestine and Israel," published in the compilation titled The Arab-Israeli Impasse, wrote:

    "By the beginning of this year [1967] there must have been rather more than two million Palestinian Arabs... About two-thirds of them were still registered refugees. Many of these had become wholly or partly self-supporting; if more had not, it was not (as was often said) because the host-countries [Arab states] did not wish them to be settled, but because the absorption of refugees depended on the pace of economic development, and this was bound to be slow in the early stages. In no country was their position satisfactory."

    1967 - Albert Hourani 

    Bertrand Russell, the late British Mathematician & Logician, was quoted by the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department, in his message to the International Conference of Parliamentarians held in Feb. 1970:

    "The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was 'given' by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict."

    Feb. 1970 - Bertrand Russell 

    Harry N. Howard, retired US Foreign Service Officer, in a 1967 essay "The Problem of the Arab Refugees: As yet no Modern Solomon," as published in the compilation titled The Arab-Israeli Impasse, wrote:

    "There is a widespread belief that the host Governments [Arab states] have been deliberately and inhumanely keeping the refugees in a state of destitution and dependence on international charity as a weapon in the prosecution of their political aims...

    Although the host Governments have opposed mass schemes of direct resettlement, on the grounds that this would be contrary to the interests and expressed wishes of the refugees themselves, their record in promoting the rehabilitation of the refugees as individuals through education, training and employment has been notably humane and helpful."

    1967 - Harry N. Howard