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Written by  BADIL Staff

 This section includes recent statements from refugee community organizations, human rights organizations, and other relevant documents related to Palestinian refugee rights.

 Final Statement Issued by the “No Substitute for Return” Conference, Ramallah, 16 August 2003
  1. Resolutions and Recommendations issued by the Popular Conference, Tulkarem, 30 July 2003
1. Resolutions and Recommendations Issued by The Popular Conference, Tulkarem, 30 July 2003
 
Based upon the debates and discussions of papers presented by the Preparatory Committee, the draft final statement, speeches and commentaries made by guests and participants, the Popular Conference issues the following resolutions and recommendations:
 
A. Resolutions:
 
Establishing the Popular Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return in Tulkarem. This Committee will include representatives of all national and Islamic parties; refugee organizations and initiatives in camps; and refugee affairs committees in the rural areas.
 
Approving the working paper presented to the Conference, in which principles, objectives, membership, and mechanisms of the Committee are determined.
 
Approving the Final Statement.
 
Sending letters to PA President Yasser Arafat, and copies to Refugee Committees of the PLC, PNC, and PLO Refugee Affairs Department to inform them of the popular position concerning recent developments, our position reaffirming the sacred right of return, and the necessity to stop Sari Nusseibeh and his group.
 
Sending letters to all organizations and committees that have relations with Sari Nusseibeh, in order to expose his suspicious project, and defeat his claim that to national and organizational legitimacy; and demanding that these people announce their position to the public.
 
The Committee should carry out the tasks of popular enlightenment and education in the district and include the voice of refugees in all local and international fora including the press, bulletins, internet pages...etc.
 
The Committee should coordinate and reinforce its relations with other similar local committees and organizations in order to unify efforts towards defending refugee rights, foremost the right of return to the original homeland.
 
The Committee should monitor services and supplies provided to refugees, address their daily concerns and problems, and coordinate and cooperate with other organizations in solving these problems.
 
The Committee should work in cooperation with PLO Refugee Affairs Department, to submit complains against individuals collecting peoples signatures and falsification of the results.
 
Focus more attention on keeping the refugee national memory alive by naming schools, streets, neighborhoods…etc. with the names of original towns and villages displaced in 1948.
 
The Committee should form a delegation to meet PA President Arafat.
 
B. Recommendations:
 
Work hard to unify refugees in Palestine and exile, based on the necessity for them to participate in making decisions about their national fate.
 
Unify all efforts in the district and in Palestine to isolate all those compromise the right of return.
 
Recommend that Sari Nusseibeh’s official party authorization (license, permission) be revoked; and to prohibit authorization of any other party that compromises national rights.
 
Recommend that the PLC Refugee Committee, and supervisory committee question the government about their commitment to refugee rights (durable solution based on UNGA Resolution 194) and about their support to Sari Nusseibeh’s initiative.
 
The PLO Refugee Affairs Department should efficiently perform its political and educational duties in refugee camps. They should issue proper budgets for Popular Service Committees.
 
Services offered to refugees in camps should be integrated (i.e., compliment each other).
 
Demand that donor countries increase their contributions to UNRWA in order to solve the Agency’s financial crisis and improve services to avoid the transfer of UNRWA’s mandate to any other party.
 
Unify all efforts and use all methods to inform and educate refugees in particular and Palestinians in general especially about the refugee issue in school curriculums, and the popular and official media.
 
Popular Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return
in Tulkarm, 3/8/2003
 
2. Final Statement Issued by The "No Substitute for Return" Conference, Ramallah, 16 August 2003
 
The Palestinian nations is passing through a critical stage: Israel’s systematic terror and the destruction of basic infrastructure continues through land confiscation and construction of settlements; closure; house demolitions; collective arrest; assassinations; violation of holy sites; closure of institutions; Judaization of Jerusalem; and the suffocation of Palestinians by the discriminatory wall that separates our towns and villages. This systematic terror aims to destroy any possibility to establish and independent Palestinian state. In addition, Israel applies discriminatory Zionist policies  against our brothers and sisters inside the Green Line. This is taking place while the American administration has explicitly aligned itself with Israel, offering all possible political and material assistance and providing all the killing and destructive military tools, and supporting Israel’s negligence of all international resolutions related to the Palestinian issue including UNGA Resolution 194. This is taking place while Arab regimes and the Arab people are unable to affect Western colonial and economic expansion in the Arab world and while the international community fails to challenge this expansion and force Israel to comply with international law. The international community welcomed the adoption of the ‘Road Map’ even though it ignores the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and ends (if it reaches any end) with a ‘Temporary Palestinian state’ on less than 24% of the West Bank and Gaza (10% of historical Palestine).
 
We remain committed to the legitimate Palestinian rights, foremost the refugees’ right of return to their original homes and properties; and reaffirm our commitment to defend the right of return. We, Palestinian refugees and non-refugees, meet today to express our unified position that Palestinian refugees forcibly displaced from their homes and properties have the legitimate and natural right to return to their original land, and that any attempt, initiative, negotiation, or settlement of the Palestinian issue that passes over our right of return or even limits this right is rejected. Our moral, national, and religious responsibilities oblige us to challenge and defeat it and their supporters.
 
Palestinian refugee initiatives, groups, and organizations and representatives of Palestinian National and Islamic Forces all participated in the "No Substitute for Return" Conference, was held in the Bir-Nabala Charitable Society, Ramallah, on 16 August 2003. We are all aware of those dangerous initiatives and conferences that aim to liquidate the refugee issue by accepting Israel’s pre-conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state.  These pre-conditions are supported by the Americans and some marginalized and defeated groups under various slogans – "These conditions must be accepted by the other side,” “practical and realistic”, or “to save what is left…” etc. – including suspicious opinion polls financed by enemies of the Palestinians and the so-called "Popular Initiative for Peace" which aim to eliminate the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.
 
The "No Substitute for Return" Conference reaffirms its adherence to internationally legitimized resolutions related to the Palestinian refugees’ right of return. Foremost among these resolutions is UNGA Resolution 194, which explicitly guarantees the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their original lands and homes. At the same time it links recognition of the new Hebrew state with the implementation of this resolution, the state that is morally, legally, and politically responsible for the refugee catastrophe for more than 55 years. We completely reject the so-called "Nusseibah-Ayalon Initiative" or "Target Map" which complies with Israeli policies by recognizing Jewish historical rights in Palestine while limiting the Palestinian right of return to the future Palestinian state.
 
Refugees met in Ramallah today to reaffirm that the refugee issue embodies the Palestinian peoples' unity in Palestine and in the Diaspora. From this Conference we reject any attempt to partition this right or exchange it with other national rights. We reject compensation as a substitute for return and any integration or settlement of refugees in others countries including the West Bank since it aims to deprive refugees from returning to their homes and properties occupied in 1948. We believe that there is no statute of limitations on the right of return, it is an individual, collective and inalienable right, and it cannot be partitioned or restricted in any peace settlement regardless of who signs it. It is a sacred right that is passed on from one generation to the other until it is achieved.
 
We observe the degree of suffering among the refugees in camps in Palestine and in exile. We also observe the attempts made by some parties to exhaust camps residents, pushing them to leave by making the living conditions very difficult. This is an attempts to remove the witnesses to the crime committed against the Palestinian people. The conference participants reaffirm that the international community should fulfill its responsibilities to UNRWA in order to overcome the Agency’s deficit and improve the quality and quantity of services provided to refugees until their return. We also call for an empowered role for the PLO and improvement of its performance to defend Palestinian national rights foremost the right of return.
 
Recommendations:
 
Reaffirm the necessity of Palestinian national unity on the base of our people's right to resist, struggle, and oppose all dangers that threaten our future. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority is requested to release all detainees from its jails, foremost, Ahmad Sa'adat, PFLP Secretary General;
 
Conduct a thorough review of the Palestinian official position and of the negotiation process regarding Palestinian refugees since Oslo until now;
 
Demand the PA to cease any financial support to Sari Nusseibeh and his suspicious projects and to end the official political cover for his activities;
 
Undertake a serious project to collect signatures and petitions that affirm the illegitimate nature of the so-called "Popular Initiative for Peace and Democracy";
 
Prepare for a joint press conference by all refugee organizations; invite representatives of the Quartet in order to inform them of the official position of refugees concerning political issues especially the refugees’ inalienable rights.
 
Work hard to maintain the right of return present among the children and youth. Concentrate on the educational curriculum; and comprehensive press and other media.
 
Empower the role of refugees in camps; activate legitimate refugee initiatives in Palestine, and continuous coordination with refugee initiatives in exile.
 
Send memorandums to the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Palestinian leadership with the conference conclusions.
 
Finally, in order to avoid occasional refugee activities that only appear in response to threats here and there, it has been decided to incorporate the National Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return in Ramallah district in order to unify efforts and empower relations with other refugee related committees in all other districts of Palestine and in exile. We believe that this will increase the efficiency of our work.
 
We appreciate the struggle of our prisoners in the occupation jails and support it; we are proud of our martyrs’ sacrifices, pain and suffering, and we are committed to their sacrifices. We call upon all national and Islamic parties and initiatives to support the National Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return. We call them to work seriously to root out all suspicious projects until we reach a balanced settlement that guarantees our people's national rights.
 
We send our sincere regards to the brave Iraqi resistance that faces an American occupation. We call upon the international community and all peace lovers to pressure America to withdraw from Iraq.
 
Victory for our people
Return of refugees to their original homes
Immortality for brave martyrs
Freedom for brave prisoners in the occupation jails
Rapid recovery for the injured
BADIL Staff

BADIL Staff

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights is an independent, community-based non-profit organization mandated to defend and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs. Our vision, missions, programs and relationships are defined by our Palestinian identity and the principles of international law, in particular international human rights law. We seek to advance the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people on this basis.

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