BADIL Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights has issued its latest publication, entitled Palestinian Self-Determination: Land, People, and Practicality. This working paper draws on the Israeli-Zionist enterprise’s attempts to frame the Palestinian right to self-determination on Mandatory Palestine as an illusory, unrealizable right. It works to dispute these false allegations by proving that self-determination for the Palestinian people on Mandatory Palestine is a long-established legal fact that is recognized as an erga omnes peremptory norm.
The paper builds on the essential components of self-determination, that is both a people to choose their political status and a territory within which to pursue their economic, social, and cultural development, with the two inextricably linked. Pertaining to Palestinian self-determination, exercising this right includes the Palestinian people as defined and recognized under international law with Mandatory Palestine as the territory whereby they exercise this right. The de facto existence of the Palestinian people in Mandatory Palestine for centuries and the de jure recognition of them as a people in that land necessarily links the Palestinian people with Mandatory Palestine. This therefore indicates that the Palestinian right to self-determination can only be exercised within the borders of their homeland as the territory where their right has been recognized.
The paper proceeds to illustrate how by virtue of the fact that self-determination is a collective right with the Palestinian people as the subject of this right, Palestinian self-determination encompasses all Palestinians who were living in Mandatory Palestine’s borders prior to 1948 and their descendants, wherever they are. This necessarily includes Palestinian refugees and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.
It follows that Israel, by denying Palestinian refugee rights, is not only perpetuating the protractedness of the Palestinian refugee issue, but is also undermining the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. This is so because their inability to physically be in Mandatory Palestine prevents the Palestinian people from exercising the right to self-determination.
Additionally, it argues that to practically enable Palestinians with an Israeli citizenship to partake in Palestinian self-determination, it is essential to recognize and act upon the recognition that Mandatory Palestine, as a whole, is a territory of a colonial type that qualifies as a non-self-governing territory entitled to decolonization.
The paper concludes that only through decolonization and the dismantlement of the Israeli colonial-apartheid regime within the borders of Mandatory Palestine will all Palestinians be enabled to participate in their right to self-determination. Considering that both the right to self-determination and prohibition of colonization are peremptory norms, third-party states have an obligation to take practical measures to bring to an end Israel’s policies and practices denying Palestinian people’s ability to exercise self-determination.