Jonathan D. Halevi
The Palestinian Authority’s January 22, 2009, declaration to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court amounts to an official request to confirm that the PA can be considered as a state for purposes of ICC jurisdiction.
The Palestinian position, which receives support from Palestinian and even some Israeli human rights organizations, looks to UN resolutions that uphold the right of return as a “private right” of every refugee. This means that the representatives of the Palestinian people (as well as the Arab League and the United Nations) have no authority to waive this right in the name of the refugees.
According to the Palestinian consensus, non-implementation of the right of return will leave open the gates of the conflict with Israel. This implies justification for the continued armed struggle against Israel even following the establishment of a Palestinian state.
By rejecting “patriation” or the resettlement of the refugees in any Arab state, the Arab Peace Initiative essentially leaves each refugee with no choice but to go to Israel itself. The Arab states rejected any solution that involves “resettling [of the Palestinians] outside of their homes.”The Arab Peace Initiative does not envision the Palestinian refugees being resettled in a West Bank and Gaza Palestinian state.
The transfer of border crossings to Palestinian control and/or the establishment of a Palestinian state is likely to bring about a wave of immigration, combined with a mass expulsion of Palestinians (primarily from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) toward the Palestinian territory even without a political agreement on the refugee issue. This could lead to the infiltration by Palestinians into Israeli territory, as well as legal claims by refugees at the International Court in The Hague for the right of return, restitution of property, and compensation.
Since the Israeli consensus holds that the mass return of Palestinian refugees to Israel means national suicide, Israel will require robust international support in negotiations on a final status agreement to reach an accord on the basis of defensible borders, and to find a permanent solution to the refugee problem based primarily on the Palestinian refugees receiving citizenship in their host countries or their absorption in a Palestinian state.
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