Israel and Palestinians argue over the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees who were uprooted from their homes during the Israel war of independence. An estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled the country and now they and their children constitute a population of over 4,000.000. There currently are an estimated 3.9 million Palestinians living in Israel controlled West Bank and Gaza and about 4.6 million Palestinians in other Arab nations. For decades these people have been stateless because Arab nations refuse to allow Palestinian refugees to be granted citizenship in their countries. A report recently described these people as, “marginalized, deprived of basic political and economic right, trapped in camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines.” In 2001, Lebanon stripped Palestinians of their right to own property or even pass on any property to their children and banned them from working in numerous occupations such ad doctors, lawyers, etc..
What is the reality of refugees. First, it is illogical to believe that 5,000,000 Palestinians will return to Israel and reclaim their lost property. It will never happen. Despite $10 billion in foreign aid, not a single refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza has been replaced by modern housing. Palestinians were ejected from Kuwait when Palestine leaders backed Saddam Hussein and the situation in Lebanon is horrendous for refugees. Jordan is probably the only Arab nation that has integrated Palestinians into their society and, while Syria allows Palestinians to work, they are barred from citizenship.
What then is reality? It is time to end the fantasy of the right of return and focus on either creating areas of Palestine which could serve as homes for refugees or have Arab nations rethink their policies toward Palestinians. Israel has to consider the need to offer billions of dollars into a fund that would assist refugees. The problem is not merely that of Israel, but the entire Arab world.