Towards a European Lobby for Palestinian Refugee Rights: Report from "Right of Return Advocacy Week" in Brussels

As Palestinian refugees in the Middle East commemorated the 52nd anniversary of their eviction by Israel (al-Nakba 1948) and rallied for the implementation of their right to return to homes and properties in accordance with UN Resolution 194, BADIL Resource Center and European partner organizations conducted a series of briefings of European and Belgian policy makers in Brussels in order to convey the same message: There will be no peace in the Middle East without recognition of Palestinian refugees' right of return, because Palestinian refugees, i.e. two thirds of the Palestinian people, reject a solution of the Palestinian refugee question which does not meet the standards set by international law and UN Resolution 194.

The delegation, composed of BADIL Program Coordinator Muhammad Jaradat and international refugee law expert Susan Akram, was hosted and assisted by Brussels-based Oxfam Solidarity, the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine (ECCP), and by the Palestine working groups in the Belgian and European parliament. The political program of the "Right of Return Advocacy Week" included meetings with EU Special Envoy Tomas Dupla del Moral and the Belgian Foreign Affairs Office, interviews in the Belgian press, and the preparation of a draft resolution calling for an active role of the Belgian government in the solution of the Palestinian refugee question according to UN Resolution 194. This resolution is scheduled for vote in the Belgian parliament before the summer recess. 

The legal program of the delegation included a working meeting with eight leading Belgian experts of international law who agreed to cooperate in the establishment of a permanent legal support team. Starting from July 2000, this team will assist Palestinian refugees in the preparation of legal petitions for return and restitution to be submitted to international and European human rights fora, and form a professional lobby for international legal protection of Palestinian refugees. In a meeting between the delegation and ENIP (European Inter-Network Group coordinating all major NGO networks), European NGOs expressed their interest and support for this Palestinian-European Campaign for the Defense of Palestinian Refugee Rights.

BADIL Brief to the European Union