For Immediate Release 19 June 2004

In an interview published in the Ha’aretz newspaper on Friday 18 June 2004, President of the Palestinian Authority Mr. Yasser Arafat reportedly announced his willingness to conclude a final agreement that would recognize and ensure “Israel’s Jewish character” at the expense of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return and restitution of all confiscated and destroyed property. Equally, the President’s statement affords legitimacy to Zionist efforts to further undermine the rights of the Palestinian population living in areas of Palestine occupied in 1948.

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, once more calls on President Arafat to uphold the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their original homes and lands in accordance with the provisions of the Palestinian National Charter adopted by the Palestinian National Council in 1968,  International Law and pertinent United Nations resolutions.

Al-Awda also calls on all Palestinians and their allies to raise their voices in unison in support of the rights of Palestinian refugees.

It is time for us to assert once more:


We urge all to contact President Arafat by phone, fax and email stressing the following points:

*It is outrageous that President Arafat would support maintaining the religious-centric character of Israel. Maintaining such a character at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the refugees’ right to return, is totally unacceptable racist discrimination and a denial of basic fundamental and inalienable human rights.

*The Palestinian refugees’ right to return is an inalienable individual and collective right guaranteed by clear legal and historical claims, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Geneva Conventions, and supported by UN Resolution 194.

*According to international law, no agreement, negotiations or parties which purport to trade away the right to return or any other inalienable rights can have any legal basis and cannot bind or compel the Palestinian people to end the struggle for the fulfillment of their rights.

*Any attempt to abrogate the rights of Palestinian refugees would set a disastrous precedent in international human rights law. It will send a clear signal that ethnic cleansers who expel civilians from their homes, steal their property and prevent them returning for long enough can expect to have their illegal territorial conquests blessed with international legitimacy.