Nidal Azza

When  Palestinian  political  factions  and  the  Palestine  Liberation  Organization  were  seeking fighters [to participate in armed resistance against Israel], they suspended refugees’ democratic participation and instead requested their contributions in the armed struggle. Today, after the death of tens of thousands of Palestinian fighters, most of them refugees, and after the Palestinian leadership acquired international recognition and a kind of legitimacy, becoming well-known individuals, no political power is after the participation of the refugees, no one wants to listen to their voices, no body, no political party and no national or international organization has set a strategy for reactivating refugee participation.

Khaled  DA,  48,  a  Palestinian  refugee  residing  in  Aida  refugee  camp.  He has been imprisoned by Israel since 1990.

Different UN agencies have now adopted a human rights-based approach to their development cooperation, known as “The Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation Towards a Common Understanding Among UN Agencies”, and the resulting experience, literature and debate prompted by this move has served to greatly enrich the concept both in theory and practice. Nonetheless, there is still no single agreed rights-based approach dealing with all aspects of peoples, groups and individual concerns; there is no workable approach which caters for different situations and issues worldwide. There is, however, a general consensus as to the basic constituent elements of such an approach, which in turn would enable concerned actors to design unique rights based systems and processes which fit particular situations, issues or causes. This commentary does not aim to explore the term, but instead seeks to present in general terms BADIL’s human rights based approach which in turn aims to uproot the conflict between Israel and Palestinian and to lay the foundations for a sustainable, just peace.

This open letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was first published in Arabic by Ma’an News, Palestine, in early March 2010.

Since the adoption of the strategy of the “peace of the brave” which seeks to achieve Palestinian rights through negotiations, Palestinian officials have never missed an opportunity to raise the demand for the international community to intervene and ensure respect of its international law and UN resolutions. And while the Palestinian leadership had limited its own strategic options in the public relations battle around the peace negotiations, the demand for enforcement of international law preserved a certain “logic” in midst of the general deterioration, in particular the disintegration of the Palestinian political system.


Intent on introducing Palestine's future legal cadre to a rights-based approach to the Palestinian refugee question, Badil entered a partnership agreement with al-Quds University in the fall of 2007. Since then, Badil's course on “Palestinian refugees under international law” has been one of the courses offered to law students, with larger numbers enrolling each semester. The target group of the Badil law course is university students, particularly law students interested in human rights. It is expected that law students, as part of the student movement that has historically played a major role in the national struggle, will influence their community and contribute to the right of return movement.


 Since the colonial invasion in the region at the end of the 19th century, intellectual leaders of the Arab National Movement, including the Palestinian movement, have been aware of the links etween Zionism and the western colonial movement. Although early writings about the dangers of Zionism and its role in the conflict, especially those of Palestinian thinkers, pointed at the racist nature of Zionism, they failed to analyze it in-depth. This is evidenced by their failure to effectively manage the conflict and alliances; inadequate theoretical and practical attention to the racist nature of Zionism; and, their failure to assess the reason why the western colonial movement preferred Zionism over the Arab National Movement, although some of its major and dominant streams showed readiness for alliance or cooperation with the western colonial movement.