Palestinian Refugees and the State: A Human and Political Capital or an Economic Burden?


The workshop opened with the speech of  Dr. Munir Qazaz, Vice President for Community Outreach, who welcomed the audience and participants and pointed the importance of the suggested topic. Following Dr. Munir, Dr. Asem Khalil, Director of IALIIS, gave a speech on the series of workshops the Institute is organizing, with emphasis on the reasons behind conducting this workshop, and the importance of the topic under discussion. He also thanked everyone who contributed in making this workshop possible, from speakers to donors.

The second session was headed by Mr. Said Salameh, Director of the Department of Refugees Affairs, and which included the intervention of Leila Hilal who spoke of “UNRWA and the Future Palestinian State”. She presented three theoretical tracks concerning durable solutions for Palestinian refugees: The first is the political track whereby agreements would be reached between Israel, the Palestinians and host Arab countries on durable solution options for the refugees. The second track would be the provision of “rehabilitation” assistance to relocate and reintegrate refugees. The last track would be monitoring and oversight to ensure that principles specified in a settlement are followed and that refugees are granted their rights. Also Leila considered that the agency’s role in durable solutions would be most concentrated in the second track, particularly in light of imposed political restrictions. 

The third session was entitled: “The Palestinian Refugees, The Right of Return and Nationality” and the chairperson of which was professor Ismat Zidan. During this session, Soujood Elwi, MA student at the International Studies Programme/ Forced Migration and Refugee Concentration, presented her paper entitled “The impact of the Palestinian State on Palestinian Refugees and Their Right of Return”, in which she spoke of the legal relationship that will bound Palestinian refugees with the state which is represented in “nationality”.  She emphasized on three main points: the first addresses the relationship between Asylum as a specific case and nationality based on the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, and its protocol 1967. The second sheds light on the relationship between nationality and the case of Palestinian asylum, especially based on article 1D from the refugee convention and UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees. And finally the third point addresses the relationship between granting Palestinian refugees the nationality of their national country, and between their continuous status as refugees.

Whereas the fourth and last session, entitled “The Status of the Palestinian Refugees in the Future Palestinian State” was headed by  Hana Jaber, Research associate at the Corporate team and Muslim cultures in LAS Laboratory of Social Anthropology and chair person of the Contemporary Arab World at the college de France. This session included a paper presented by Ingrid Jaradat, research consultant to Palestinian civil society campaigns, entitled “Palestinian refugees, agents of self-determination, unity and empowerment”. She  referred to a number of common and intriguing questions regarding the Palestinian refugee cause, their situation and  relationship with their state. In addition to a number of questions, the answer of which is a right to the Palestinian society and is a part of Palestinian right in self determination.

The commentator on the second session was Alex Pollock: Director of Micro Finance for UNRWA and Lex Takkenberg, Chief, Ethics Officer with UNRWA Headquarters in Amman. While the commentators of the third session was Asem Khalil, Director, IALIIS, and Yasser Amouri, Assistant Professor at the department of Law. The fourth session was commented by Rana Barakat, assistant Professor at the Philosophy and Cultural Studies Department, Jaber Sulieman,  independent researcher and Aiko Nishikida, Assistant Professor of Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. That was before opening the floor for discussion with the audience. Finally, Oroub Al-Abed, PhD student at the Department of Development Studies SOAS- University of London SOAS Concluded the workshop with Remarks and recommendations.

Monday, April 30, 2012 - 12