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Announcement of release: BADIL Working Paper no. 10 (August 2005): DO ISRAELI RIGHTS CONFLICT WITH THE PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN? Identifying the Possible Legal Arguments

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

Announcement of release: BADIL Working Paper no. 10 (August 2005)
DO ISRAELI RIGHTS CONFLICT WITH THE PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN?
Identifying the Possible Legal Arguments

For Immediate Release

No. (E/27/05) 19 September 2005

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Announcement of release: BADIL Working Paper no. 10 (August 2005)

English, 34 pages

ISSN: 1728-1660

DO ISRAELI RIGHTS CONFLICT WITH THE PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN?
Identifying the Possible Legal Arguments

Michael Kagan


In this working paper, refugee law expert Michael Kagan develops the idea of conflicting rights as a means of addressing Israeli objections to Palestinian refugee return. Rather than explore Palestinian arguments for the right of return, this paper starts from the assumption that the right of return exists and must be accepted by Israel in order to reach a just peace that complies with international law. Instead, this paper aims to identify and assess separate claims by Jews or Israelis that cannot coexist with refugee return. Without this separation, any assertion of Palestinian rights may be misunderstood as a denial of Israeli interests, and vice versa.

Because Palestinians base their right to return in international law, many Israelis may assume that international law leaves no room for their concerns. By looking at separate, conflicting rights, the interests of both sides can at least be acknowledged in the discussion, and both assessed through the lens of international law. This offers a channel of dialogue for Israelis and Palestinians who want a just solution to the conflict, and responds to Israeli intellectuals who have sought to acknowledge the justice of Palestinian claims while finding alternative reasons for opposing the full implementation of the right of return.

Kagan attempts to articulate the best case arguments that can be made under international law for different Israeli claims, and then assesses the relative strength of each argument. He concludes that Israelis can make serious arguments to resist specific cases of property restitution, and perhaps certain methods of refugee return. But he concludes that the frequently asserted claim that Jews collectively have a right to separate, exclusive self-determination in a state where they are the dominant majority has little merit in law.

BADIL working papers provide a means to publish research and analysis relevant to the debate over rights-based durable solutions for Palestinian refugees. Working papers do not necessarily reflect the views of BADIL. Electronic copies of this as well as other BADIL working papers are published on the BADIL website. Print copies may be purchased (Euro 5/piece) via internet. Please handle orders via the BADIL website, or contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download and read a PDF file of the working paper

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