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Refugees / Palestinian Perspective

Palestinians frame the refugee issue in the context of justice, dignity, victimhood, and international law. At the core of the Palestinian narrative is the “Nakba” (“catastrophe”) — the 1948-49 War. Most Palestinians blame Israel for creating the Palestinian refugee situation, as part of a longstanding, disenfranchising Zionist policy from the early 20th century. They argue that during the war, Israel forced Palestinians from their homes, and that those who fled did so because they feared assault by Israeli forces. After the war, Israel blocked Palestinian refugees from


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returning. Thus, the Palestinians claim that Israel is responsible for the plight of Palestinian refugees. 


Palestinians demand a “right of return” to their lost homes and villages within the State of Israel. Although in most cases these homes no longer exist, many Palestinians express a deep desire to return, and still possess the original keys passed down through the generations. Encouraged by Palestinian leadership, the nakba and the right of return (with the key as its symbol) have become the core of Palestinian identity. According to the Palestinians and the United Nations, there were approximately 750,000 Palestinian refugees after the war, and the surviving refugees and their descendents now number 7 million. The Palestinians argue that these descendents must be included in a resolution of the issue.

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