Palestinian Refugees and the Issue of Jerusalem

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Since the creation of Israel in 1948, a long and arduous conflict has existed between the Israelis and Palestinians. Despite several attempts at negotiating a final peace agreement, all efforts have been fruitless. Two specific issues remain at the core of the inability to obtain a final peace agreement-the issues of Jerusalem and the question of Palestinian refugees. Both matters are highly contentious, emotional and political, and as a result have necessitated a substantial amount of deliberation over years. In the following, I will argue that in order to reach a final peace agreement, the issue of Palestinian refugees and the ‘right of return’ will be harder to solve than the issue of Jerusalem. To further my position, I will draw from historical accounts and critically examine important polemic arguments brought forth by scholars, advocates and the international community. Issue of the Palestinian Refugees and the ‘Right of Return’ As of January 1, 2012, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) estimated that the total number of registered Palestinian refugees was approximately 5,115,755, with the largest concentrations of refugees in Jordan, followed by the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Syria and Lebanon respectively. Based on these staggering figures, most would contend that the question of Palestinian refugees is in fact the most divisive issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict and has become an increasingly daunting matter as more time elapses. The issue of Palestinian refugees and the ‘right of return’ presents more challenges than the question of Jerusalem due to three important reasons and will be discussed in the following paragraphs. First and foremost, there is a profound division amo... ... middle of paper ... ...Right of Return: From the Absolute to the Attainable, MA Thesis, John F. Kennedy School of Government, May, 2005. Morris, B., The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 1-38 and 588-601. Oz, Amos (2007-01-01). "Doves should re-examine their perch". The Guardian, London. (Accessed March 2012). http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,417958,00.html Scham, P., Salem, W., and Pogrund, B., Shared Histories: A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue, (Walnut Creek, CA; Left Coast Press, 2005), Section 6 (pp. 205-250). United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=253 (Accessed March 2012) Wasserstein, D., Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City, London; Profile Books, 2001, Prologue (pp. 1-14) and Epilogue (pp, 345-360).

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