The Palestinian refugee problem has been one of the most painful and complex issues in Israeli-Arab relations. The problem came into being during Israel's war of independence—from November 1947 until January 1949—when, according to United Nations (U.N.)

The Palestinian refugee problem has been one of the most painful and complex issues in Israeli-Arab relations. The problem came into being during Israel's war of independence—from November 1947 until January 1949—when, according to United Nations (U.N.) data, 726,000 Arabs fled or were deported from the territories that eventually formed the State of Israel.[1] Attempts were made to resolve the problem through political discussions between Israel and its Arab neighbors during the spring and summer of 1949 (Lausanne talks) and during the fall and winter of 1951 (Paris talks), but they proved futile. At that time, the Arab states were the principal guardians of Palestinian interests; the Palestinians themselves were not a party to these talks as official participants. Various delegations of refugees tried to raise their concerns at the time, but to no avail.

During the next four decades, there were no Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations dedicated to resolving the refugee question in a comprehensive manner. During this time, the number of persons who had left Palestine as refugees declined through natural attrition, and today they number only between 50,000 and 150,000. But the issue did not go away. The United Nations confers official status as refugees on all the descendants of the original refugees, so that the number of Palestinian "refugees" is roughly 3.5 million, out of a total Palestinian population of 6.4 million.[2]

The refugee issue returned to the negotiating table at the end of 1991 with the convocation in Madrid of an international peace conference that, for the first time in forty years, slated discussions between Israel and Palestinian representatives on the issue of the Palestinian refugees.

More than ten years later—a time marked by the Oslo accords, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and intensive final status talks—the refugee issue remains as intractable as ever. Opinions differ over the ranking of the refugee problem in the list of obstacles that ultimately led to the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian political process. Terrorism, settlements, borders, and Jerusalem—none of these issues was resolved in a full decade of talks. Nevertheless, most accounts point to the refugee problem as one of the major obstacles to a final agreement.

What was actually discussed on this topic? What proposals were floated? What concessions were contemplated, discussed, offered, or retracted? The question is not academic. At some point, surely, Israelis and Palestinians will again sit down to negotiate the refugee issue. When that happens, both sides will refer to prior negotiations.

Discussions over the refugee issue passed through various stages in the decade from the Madrid conference in 1991 to the Taba talks in 2001. The following account reviews those stages in an attempt to establish what did and did not take place in the longest-ever Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The Madrid Process

On October 30, 1991, representatives of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinians convened in Madrid for meetings initiated by Washington and nominally co-sponsored by the Soviet Union.

The conference established a multilateral working group dealing with the Palestinian refugee problem that included delegates from Israel, Jordan (including a Palestinian contingent), Europe, North America, and Asia.[3]

Palestinians and Israelis began by restating their longstanding positions. Israel, the Palestinians argued, bore full responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem because its armed forces had carried out a systematic, planned campaign to expel the Palestinians during the 1948 war. The Palestinians then invoked Article 11 of U.N. Resolution 194 from December 1948, which, by their reading, required Israel to allow all Arab refugees interested in returning and living in peace alongside their Jewish neighbors to do so as soon as possible and to compensate those refugees who were not interested in returning for their abandoned property.[4] The Palestinians claimed that this resolution gave every single refugee, and also every refugee's descendant, the right to return (what they called "the right of return") to the place he or she left as a result of the war.[5]

Israel, on the other hand, rejected (as it has done since 1949) any possibility that a significant number of Palestinian refugees might be permitted to return to places within its pre-1967 boundaries. Israel's representatives refused to admit any responsibility for the genesis of the refugee problem, arguing that it was created because of the decision by the Arab states and the Palestinians to take military action in breach of the U.N. partition resolution of November 1947, which called for the establishment of two states in Palestine: Jewish and Arab. This policy of the Arab states precipitated the 1948 war that created the problem in the first place. Israel argued that any significant return of refugees would undermine the Jewish-Zionist character of the state, endanger its security, and subvert its economy.[6]

Israel also voiced a procedural objection. In its view, a solution to the refugee problem could never be reached in a multilateral framework. The Palestinians, surrounded by representatives of many governments, foreign and Arab, would simply parrot unattainable demands and use the talks to rally international opinion rather than negotiate. In particular, Israeli diplomats worried that the Palestinians would seek endorsement of the "right of return."[7] The Israeli delegation therefore demanded that the group focus its discussions on the human aspects of the Palestinian refugee problem (their economic and social welfare) and not on political angles ("right of return" and compensation).[8]

The working group, during its first two rounds of meetings in May and November 1992, decided to focus initially on humanitarian matters as well as one topic with a political dimension: family reunification. The idea was to build on Israel's own bureaucratic procedures, which sometimes permitted Palestinians residing outside the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be reunited with their relatives living in the territories.[9] Israel was displeased with this decision to include family reunification in the talks, lest it be used to revive de profundis the "right of return" to Israel proper but agreed to include this issue nonetheless.[10]

The working group, after exploring the question of family reunification, proposed that Israel increase the number of Palestinians entitled to inclusion in the program and also ease reunification procedures.[11] This proposal came just at the moment when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) reached a breakthrough agreement, culminating in the September 1993 signing in Washington of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles. In the midst of the prevailing euphoria, Israel decided to make a gesture. Yossi Beilin, the Israeli deputy foreign minister, announced his government's agreement to double the number of licenses granted annually for family reunification from 1,000 to 2,000. This decision was supposed to entitle more than 5,000 Palestinians to an entry permit to the territories. Israel also approved the right to permanent residency for 6,000 Palestinians who had been residing illegally in the territories.[12]

In the Declaration of Principles, Israel and the PLO recognized one another and opened a direct negotiating channel. The agreement provided that talks over the political aspects of the 1948 refugee problem would take place later, in direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a permanent settlement. The multilateral working group on refugees was henceforth relegated to discussing humanitarian aspects of the refugee problem and considering plans to better the lot of refugees still in camps. Altogether, the working group held eight official meetings between May 1992 and May 1996, at various locations in the Middle East, Europe, and Canada. In March 1997, the Arab League decided to boycott all multilateral talks, including the working group on refugees, in protest against Israeli residential construction on the West Bank and Gaza, plus the general negotiating deadlock.[13] The short life of the refugee working group had ended.

Had it made a difference? No one claimed that the working group made any tangible contribution to resolving the issue.[14] But the Palestinians had every reason to be pleased: for the first time in forty years, the question of the Palestinian refugees had topped the agenda of an official international forum—one attended by Israel.

Thinking Final Status

During the two years from September 1993 until September 1995, Israel and the Palestinians reached three "interim" agreements (the Declaration of Principles, September 13, 1993; the Gaza-Jericho agreement, May 4, 1994; and the interim agreement, September 28, 1995). At the secret discussions held in Oslo, the parties had agreed that the refugee issue (together with Jerusalem, the settlements, security arrangements, and final borders) would be discussed at a later stage in negotiations for a permanent settlement.[15] After decades of bitter struggle—so the rationale went—it would be impractical to tackle the most difficult problems first. Trust had to be built up between the two sides; only then would they be able to make the painful compromises necessary to resolve the most difficult issues.[16] By agreement, final status talks were due to start on May 4, 1996; a final peace agreement was to be signed by the parties no later than May 4, 1999. In fact, the process entered a crisis in the winter of 1995, and stalemate ensued for four years.[17]

In July 1999, the situation changed dramatically when Ehud Barak led the Labor party to victory in Israel. Barak's ambitious campaign promise to bring the Israeli-Arab conflict to an end, including its Palestinian dimension, implied a resolution of the refugee problem. Barak began roughly with the longstanding Israeli position, rejecting any Palestinian "right of return." Nonetheless, Barak was inclined to agree, in principle, to the return of some refugees to the areas administered by the PA, and still more to a future Palestinian state, which Barak initially envisioned would include about 70 percent of the Palestinian territories (not Jerusalem).[18] Barak was also prepared to contemplate Israel's token participation in the payment of compensation to the refugees.[19]

The Palestinian standpoints ran contrary to Barak's on most of the parameters. Israel would have to accept moral responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem and accept in principle the "right of return." Should Israel not implement this right in full, it would compensate the refugees in full. Refugees would be free to move without restriction to the Palestinian state, which would include all the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as its capital of East Jerusalem, including the part holy to Jews and Muslims (Temple Mount/Haram ash-Sharif).[20]

Israeli and Palestinian representatives began talks on the permanent settlement in September 1999. By this time, public opinion surveys showed, the unhappy experience over the six years since the Oslo accords had been signed did not make this most difficult of issues more tractable. A survey one month later asked the question, "Which of the following solutions to the refugee issue is the most just in your opinion?" Some 81 percent of those questioned in the West Bank and 83 percent in the Gaza Strip chose the return of all refugees interested in doing so and compensation for the rest. In contrast, a mere 4 percent of Jews questioned chose that reply and 57 percent of them supported Israel's sole right to decide who should be allowed to return, if at all.

How many Palestinian refugees would take advantage of a "right of return" should Israel permit it without any limitations? Palestinian leaders were placating the Israeli public by indicating that there would be no mass return. Opinion research showed otherwise; over half of the Palestinians surveyed estimated that between 1 to 4 million refugees would opt to move to locations inside the borders of Israel. [21]

Similar results turned up in a poll taken two months later.[22]

What explains this discrepancy between the leadership's assurances and public aspirations? Palestinian leaders understood that Israelis overwhelmingly see the "right of return" as a mortal threat, so from 1991 on, they refrained from unequivocally demanding this right. Yasir Arafat and his colleagues instead shifted their focus to gaining a foothold in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a first step to turning them into a single political sovereign entity with Jerusalem as its capital. As long as that goal was not achieved, there was no point in demanding the implementation of the "right of return." Nor could Palestinians tap a reservoir of international sympathy for the "right of return." Unlike the idea of a Palestinian state, it lacked enthusiasts in the West.

Yet at the same time, the refugee issue lies at the heart of the Palestinian ethos, and it was and remains immensely important for the refugees themselves. Arafat and his associates could not afford to neglect the issue entirely during all those years of negotiations with Israel. Hence, Palestinian leaders occasionally made declarations in Arabic in support of the "right of return."[23]

In 1999, however, as Barak seemed determined to reach an agreement at any cost, the Palestinian leadership adopted a more forthright position on the refugee issue, spelling out in public an explicit and uncompromising demand for the "right of return."[24]

Camp David

Palestinians received the first significant indication of Israel's eagerness to strike a deal—and its willingness to retreat from long-established positions—in secret discussions held between representatives of Israel and the PA in Stockholm in the spring of 2000. The main issues of a final settlement—a Palestinian state, Jerusalem, and the refugees—were discussed in their entirety in fifteen meetings.[25] According to a senior Israeli source, the Palestinians were offered a state on 88 percent of the territory. On the question of the refugees, Israel proposed to absorb 15,000 people within the family reunification scheme. The Palestinians agreed that the "right of return" would not be implemented in full, but they did demand that the eventual solution be based on that right and not simply on family reunification.[26]

During the Camp David summit of July 2000, Barak made even more territorial concessions. He agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state on 91 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip; an additional 1 percent would be transferred to the Palestinians from within the sovereign territory of Israel (a step which Israeli leaders had rejected outright until then). He was also prepared to accept the actual partition of Jerusalem, including a special authority over the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City.[27]

Barak refused to accept any responsibility, legal or moral, for the refugee problem, and he continued to oppose any recognition of the principle of the "right of return." However, he did agree to express Israel's regret over the suffering of the refugees, to absorb tens of thousands of refugees under the family reunification plan, and to make a financial contribution to an international organization to be established for the rehabilitation of the refugees outside of Israel.

The Palestinians did not reciprocate Israel's unprecedented concessions at Camp David, and the summit conference ended without an agreement. The Jerusalem issue was one major source of disagreement,[28] but so was the refugee question.[29] Polls showed the vast majority of Palestinians rejecting any compromise on the "right of return."[30] Indeed, during the summit itself, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza to oppose any concession on this issue.[31] Arafat did not disappoint them, and thousands of Palestinians waited to cheer him in Gaza on his return from the summit. Even his sworn political rival, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, congratulated him on his "resolute stand."[32]

A totally different reception awaited Barak, who was met by demonstrators angered by what they viewed as his far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians.[33] They were not an isolated few. In an opinion poll conducted among Israeli Jews during the week following the failure at Camp David, it became clear that Barak's tentative movement on the refugee question met with the greatest resistance of all the Camp David compromises. Some 76 percent of Israeli Jews rejected the possibility that the permanent settlement with the Palestinians should include Israel's acceptance of 100,000 Palestinians within its borders. There was greater readiness to transfer East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty and to turn over 90 percent of the territories than to accept tens of thousands of Palestinians refugees.[34]

Nevertheless, despite acrimonious public criticism, Barak's government was ready to make additional concessions to the Palestinians following the failure of the summit conference. The formula that evolved on the Israeli side called for maximum compromise on the territorial question and the issue of Jerusalem in return for a Palestinian concession on the "right of return."

But anyone following the statements of public figures in the Palestinian leadership during that same period could see the fatal flaw in this strategy. Not only did they not prepare Palestinian public opinion for the possibility of a concession on the "right of return," they declared time and again that the issue was nonnegotiable.[35] The Barak government, however, had to discover this the hard way.

Clinton's Compromise

In September 2000, Palestinians began a large-scale insurrection against Israel. Even so, it did not put an end to the negotiations. In fact, during Bill Clinton's last few months as president, Barak showed even more readiness to compromise on the territorial question and Jerusalem. In the talks held on December 19-23 in Washington, under the president's auspices, the Israeli leadership offered new concessions via verbal proposals conveyed by Clinton. [36]

The Clinton "parameters" called for a Palestinian state on 96 percent of the West Bank along with an additional 1 percent of Israel's own sovereign territory or, alternatively, 94 percent plus 3 percent, as well as 100 percent of the area of the Gaza Strip. All the Arab districts in East Jerusalem would be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty, and the Palestinians would receive tangible control over the entire Old City except for the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall. These far-reaching terms effectively called for a near-total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza in favor of an Arafat-led state.

But on the issue of refugees, the Clinton "parameters" differed little from the Camp David formula. The refugees would have the "right of return"—but only to their "homeland," understood to be the future Palestinian state. Refugees who did not move to Palestine would have the right to choose between rehabilitation in their current places of residence, relocation to another country, or return to a location within the borders of Israel subject to that country's sovereign discretion (and within the category of family reunification). A new international mechanism would be set up to look after the rehabilitation of the refugees, to which Israel would contribute as part of its compensation to the refugees.[37]

Within forty-eight hours after Clinton presented his ideas, Barak announced that he was prepared to accept them as long as Arafat did likewise.[38] On December 28, the Israeli government made a decision to do just that.[39] Its only significant reservations related to security clauses and the type of sovereignty to be assigned to the Temple Mount.[40] But on the Palestinian side, Arafat delayed his answer to the Americans until January 3, 2001, even though he was perfectly aware of the time constraints—namely, the end of Clinton's term of office on January 20 and the elections in Israel on February 6.

It became evident that the Palestinians were most dissatisfied with that part of the U.S. proposal relating to the refugee issue. Palestinian reservations were stated in a position paper circulated to the foreign consuls in Jerusalem, and the PA placed them on its website on January 2. According to that position paper, "The United States proposal reflects a wholesale adoption of the Israeli position." The Palestinians also announced that it was the refugees, not Israel, who alone had the right to decide where they wished to settle. There was no precedent in the history of mankind of a nation giving up its "right of return" to its land, regardless of whether it was abandoned by accord or under duress. "We will not be the first people to do so," the position paper announced.

The position paper also emphasized that Israeli recognition of the "right of return" and the right of the refugees to choose where they wished to settle was a precondition for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The only flexibility that the Palestinians were prepared to consider was "mechanisms for implementing the right of return."[41] In line with those statements, the Palestinian cabinet meeting, during the very same week that Clinton presented his proposals, reached this decision: "The Palestinian leadership confirms its commitment to the full right of the refugees to return to their lands and homes in accordance with Resolution 194."[42] This position found wide support. Senior members of the Fatah movement announced that an agreement with Israel would be inconceivable without implementing the "right of return."[43] Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in the streets of Nablus, Tulkarem, and Ramallah against the Clinton plan and in support of the "right of return."[44]

When Arafat at long last accepted Clinton's "parameters" on January 3—not in public, but in a private conversation with Clinton[45]—time had run out on another tripartite summit.[46] This timing left American officials dubious about Arafat's sincerity in accepting the plan.[47]

Last Ditch at Taba

Despite the yawning gaps between the two sides, especially in respect to the refugee issue but also (to a lesser degree) with regard to sovereignty on the Temple Mount, the two sides met one last time in the Egyptian resort of Taba on January 21, 2001. It was a last-ditch attempt to formulate some sort of document that would summarize the agreements they had reached on permanent status issues. Senior officials from both parties attended these talks; the Clinton proposals served as the basis for the discussions.

Once again, the Palestinians stiffened their position. On January 22, they submitted a position paper insisting that Israel not only acknowledge moral and legal responsibility for the refugee problem but also its responsibility for preventing a solution in accord with U.N. Resolution 194. Israel, continued the Palestinian paper, should admit any refugee intent on returning to its territory and willing to live in peace there. Further, all refugees without exception should be compensated by Israel for their abandoned property and for the suffering inflicted upon them as refugees. Collective compensation should be paid to the future Palestinian state for public lands and buildings appropriated by the State of Israel. Finally, Israel should pay compensation to the Arab states for their expenses as hosts for the refugees. International bodies would be set up in order to implement and supervise the repatriation and compensation operations.[48] These demands went significantly further than the customary Palestinian demand for a "right of return."

Astonishingly, Israeli negotiators did not summarily reject this extreme Palestinian document. Quite the contrary: Yossi Beilin, justice minister and head of the Israeli negotiating team on refugees, gave a "personal response" to the Palestinian position paper that expressed "sorrow" for suffering and losses incurred by the Palestinian refugees and promised to play an active role in bringing this "terrible chapter" to a conclusion. Beilin wrote that the "emergent State of Israel became embroiled in the war and bloodshed of 1948-49"—a formulation that absolved the Arabs of any responsibility for their decision to go to war. The Israeli negotiating team, eager for an agreement, seemed prepared to accept Israel's moral and legal responsibility for the creation of the problem.

When it came to a practical solution, Beilin based his position on Clinton's proposals. Israel would absorb a limited number of refugees (several tens of thousands) over a number of years, based on the family reunification scheme. Preference would be given to refugees in Lebanon, due to Israel's "moral commitment to the swift resolution of the plight of the refugee population of the Sabra and Shatila camps." The team did not object to the settlement of refugees in the Palestinian state in unlimited numbers.

Beilin offered the refugees three other courses of action: rehabilitation in the countries where they had settled, emigration to other countries, or settlement in those parts of Israel that might be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty in the framework of the territorial agreement. A new international body would regulate the compensation payments and would compensate refugees. It would also invest in community projects for the rehabilitation of the refugees, and Israel would be among its leading contributors. Arab states where refugees settled would also receive compensation payments. Beilin proposed that the implementation of these principles would be recognized as the complete and final compliance with U.N. Resolution 194; upon their implementation, the parties would have no further claims in respect to the problem of the Palestinian refugees.[49]

These proposals, which went far beyond Israeli public opinion, left the Palestinians completely unmoved. They merely repeated their demand that Israel grant the refugees freedom of choice to decide where to live. The most they would concede was to "pledge" (without any apparent authority) that most refugees would opt to remain where they were.[50] In other words, Israel was being asked to make a key decision about its future course on a casual promise by Arafat that most of the three million refugees would prefer to live in despotic and impoverished Arab states rather than move to a democratic and prosperous Israel; and that they would not be urged to move to Israel to overwhelm the Jewish state demographically.

The Taba talks concluded on January 27 without any tangible results. But the lack of results does not mean the Palestinians will forget the substance of the negotiations. Some analysts believe that Beilin's "non-paper" at Taba constituted a serious erosion in long-standing Israeli positions. As Ha'aretz journalist Ari Shavit put it, "the Taba document is a breathtaking gamble. It opens the gates of sovereign Israel to an uncontrollable process of return." This is because, unlike the Clinton "parameters," the Beilin paper seemed to accept a Palestinian "right of return" to Israel itself.[51] The Israeli public has since repudiated Beilin (he left the Labor party for Meretz and in the January 2003 elections could not win himself a parliamentary seat), but Palestinian memories are long. There is little doubt that if negotiations were resumed, the Palestinians would present the Beilin "non-paper" as their point of departure for Israel.

Zero Progress

The Palestinians' position on refugees did not change one iota through ten years of negotiations. They showed no intention of discarding the "right of return." Even though the leadership played down this demand for tactical reasons during the negotiations before 1999, it remained embedded deep in their ethos and came to the surface again as soon as final status talks commenced.

The Israeli side did become dramatically more flexible, on the entire range of Israeli-Palestinian issues. Israel left the starting gate with a position that refused the establishment of a Palestinian state, rejected major territorial concessions, and insisted on unified Jerusalem as Israel's exclusive capital. Israel ended up accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state, conceding almost 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, and acknowledging East Jerusalem as Palestine's future capital.

Israel also relented on refugee-related issues. It accepted the unfettered return of the refugees into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a development that implied Palestinians constituting a majority west of the Jordan. Israel was also prepared to absorb some refugees within its own borders—the first such proposal Israel had made since 1949.

What Israel would not (and could not) do was accept the Palestinians' demand to shoulder the entire moral and legal responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem and to accept the Palestinian interpretation of Resolution 194. Nor could it open the door, in principle or practice, to the entry of a potentially unlimited number of refugees. The Barak government made its far-reaching concessions on other issues, precisely to remove the "right of return" from the Palestinian and international agenda. In exchange for Palestinian statehood, the Barak government hoped to achieve the ever-elusive prize of an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, putting an end to all claims.

It did not, and the conclusion is unavoidable. The Palestinians still remain conflicted about a two-state solution. The problem is not that such a solution has sworn opponents among rejectionist groups. The problem is that the mainstream leadership, despite its acceptance of a two-state solution, has yet to internalize its meaning: the explicit relinquishing of the "right of return" to Israel. Until that happens, any negotiation on final status is destined to end where the last one did, in failure.

Jacob Tovy holds a doctorate from Haifa University, where he is a research fellow.

[1] United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East, First Interim Report, document A/1106 of 17 (New York: United Nations, Nov. 1949), p. 22.
[2] Erik Schechter, "Redefining the Refugees," The Jerusalem Report, Jan. 28, 2002.
[3] Joel Peters, Pathways to Peace: The Multilateral Arab-Israeli Peace Talks (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1996), pp. 5-8.
[4] Rex Brynen, "Much Ado about Nothing? The Refugee Working Group and the Perils of Multilateral Quasi-negotiation," International Negotiations, Nov. 1997, at
[5] Elia Zureik, Palestinian Refugees and the Peace Process (Washington: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1996), p. 89; Shlomo Gazit, Ba'ayat Ha-Plitim Ha-Palastinim (Tel Aviv: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 1994), p. 4.
[6] Gazit, Ba'ayat Ha-Plitim Ha-Palastinim, pp. 9-11.
[7] Yair P. Hirschfeld, Oslo, nushah le-shalom: ha-mas´a u-matan 'al heskeme Oslo--ha-astrategyah u-mimushah (Tel-Aviv: Am Oved Publishers, 2000), p. 115; Salim Tamari, Palestinian Refugee Negotiations: From Madrid to Oslo II (Washington: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1996), p. 3.
[8] Brynen, "Much Ado about Nothing?"
[9] Peters, Pathways to Peace, p. 31.
[10] Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Through Secret Channels (Reading: Garnet Publishing, 1995), p. 125; Brynen, "Much Ado about Nothing?"
[11] Peters, Pathways to Peace, pp. 32-3.
[12] Ha'aretz, Oct. 13, 1993.
[13] Brynen, "Much Ado about Nothing?"
[14] Zureik, Palestinian Refugees, pp. 11-2; Yossi Beilin, Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999), p. 84.
[15] Abu Mazen, Through Secret Channels, pp. 111-83; Hirschfeld, Oslo, pp. 110-64; Uri Savir, The Process: 1,100 Days that Changed the Middle East (New York: Random House, 1998), pp. 3-247.
[16] Hirschfeld, Oslo, pp. 149-52.
[17] Karin Aggestam, Reframing and Resolving Conflict: Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, 1988-1998 (Lund: Lund University Press, 1999), pp.187-209; Hirschfeld, Oslo, pp. 241-55.
[18] Until Barak, Israel was reluctant to permit any significant number of "displaced persons" (refugees from the 1967 war) to return to the territories. See Ha'aretz, Mar. 5, 7, 8, July 21, 1995; Tamari, Palestinian Refugee Negotiations, pp. 17-8, 45.
[19] The Washington Post, July 19, 1999; Ha'aretz, Sept. 15, Oct. 12, Nov. 2, 1999, Sept. 14, 2001.
[20] Ha'aretz, June 28, 2000; The New York Times, July 11, 2000.
[21] Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), Public Opinion Poll No. 34, "Palestinian-Israeli Attitudes towards Palestinian Refugees, December 1999," at (part one) and at (part two).
[22] JMCC, Public Opinion Poll No. 35, "On Palestinian and Israeli Attitudes towards the Future of the Peace Process, December 1999," at
[23] For example, a paragraph calling for implementation of the "right of return" appeared in the January 1996 manifesto of Arafat's Fatah movement. See Brynen, "Much Ado about Nothing?"; Zureik, Palestinian Refugees, pp. 14, 18, 94; Gabriel Sheffer, Ba-ikvot Tahalikh Ha-Shalom (Tel Aviv: Tami Steinmetz Center, 2000), p. 42.
[24] Ha'aretz, May 19, 2000.
[25] The New York Times, July 26, 2001.
[26] Ha'aretz, July 6, Sept. 14, 2001.
[27] U.S.A. Today, July 21, 2000; The Washington Post, July 30, 2000; The New York Review of Books, Aug. 9, 2001; Ha'aretz, July 14, 2000, Sept. 14, 2001; "Camp David Peace Proposal of July 2000, Frequently Asked Questions," at
[28] The Washington Post, July 26, 29, 2000; U.S.A. Today, July 28, 2000; The New York Times, Aug. 2, 2000.
[29] The Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2000.
[30] JMCC Public Opinion Poll No. 37, "On Palestinian Attitudes towards Final Status Negotiations and the Declaration of the State, June 2000," at; Ha'aretz, July 19, 2000.
[31] Middle East Times (international edition), July 21, 2000.
[32] The New York Times, July 26, 27, 2000.
[33] The Washington Post, July 27, 2000.
[34] According to the poll, 58 percent of Israeli Jews opposed transferring the neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty (38 percent agreed), and 59 percent opposed the idea that the Palestinian state should extend to about 90 percent of the territories (37 percent agreed). Ha'aretz, Aug. 7, 2000.
[35] The Washington Post, Sept. 13, Nov. 8, 2000; Middle East Times (international edition), July 28, Dec. 1, 2000.
[36] The Washington Post, Dec. 22, 23, 2000; Ha'aretz, Sept. 14, 2001.
[37] The Washington Post, Dec. 27, 2000; U.S.A. Today, Dec. 27, 2000; The New York Times, Dec. 28, 2000; Ha'aretz, Dec. 28, 2000, Sept. 14, 2001; The New York Review of Books, Aug. 9, 2001.
[38] The New York Times, Dec. 26, 2000.
[39] Ibid., Dec. 28, 2000.
[40] Ha'aretz, Jan. 7, 2001.
[41] "Remarks and Questions from the Palestinian Negotiating Team Regarding the United States Proposal," Palestine Ministry of Information, Jan. 15, 2001, at
[42] The New York Times, Dec. 31, 2000.
[43] Ha'aretz, Dec. 26, 2000.
[44] Middle East Times (international edition), Jan. 5, 2001.
[45] The Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2001.
[46] Ibid., Jan. 6, 2001.
[47] Ibid., Jan. 7, 2001.
[48] "Palestinian Paper on Refugees," Jan. 22, 2001, at
[49] "Israeli Private Response on Palestinian Refugees, Jan. 23, 2001," at
[50] Ha'aretz, Feb. 14, 2002; "Refugees in the Middle East Process," Palestinian Refugee Research Net, at; The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2001.
[51] Ha'aretz, July 7, 2002.