"Principles are not negotiable. The right of return is not negotiable. What you do is negotiate the implementation." - Hanan Ashrawi






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Right of Return

The right of return has been a core issue during peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. It involves the right of Palestinian refugees from the Independence War of 1948 and their descendants to return to Israel proper. Hanan Ashrawi firmly believes in the necessity of this provision in any agreement to which the two sides may eventually settle; however, many disagree with her.


The group Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, stresses the need for the thousands of refugees to be allowed to return to Israel proper and be compensated as mandated by international laws concerning refugees. Dr. Ashrawi shares a similar view to Al-Awda and firmly maintains that Israel should not be exempt from international law concerning refugee rights. She says that no peace process can be made when the state skirts issues concerning the refugees, and expresses outrage at the Israeli policy that all Jews can come into the state but the exiled Palestinians cannot. She speaks strongly against the distortion of history by many Israelis, particularly the denial of the destruction of multiple Palestinian villages in Israel.

Many Israelis believe that allowing the right of return could be the end of Israel, making the Jews the minority in a Muslim society, similar to Israel's position as a small Jewish state amongst many Arab nations. This sentiment is shown by a renowned Israeli peace activist, Amos Oz.


However, Jerome M. Segal, a Doctor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland and co-author of Negotiation Jerusalem, disagrees with Oz’s sentiment and that of a group of other left-wing Israeli peace activists. He explains that recognizing the existence of the Palestinian refugees and offering options other than return to Israel to them is a more sensible and more desirable course for all involved, so that only a small portion would actually choose to return.