The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law

By Lex Takkenberg | Go to book overview

X Summary and Conclusions

The conflict over Palestine has produced one of the most tragic and compelling refugee crises of the post Second World War era. In quantitative terms, it features prominently on the list of the world's major refugee situations; in terms of duration and political sensitivity, it is without equivalent after the Second World War. Furthermore, as the present study has shown, the status of Palestinian refugees in international law is of considerable complexity. The lack of an unequivocal definition of the term 'Palestinian refugee' for the purpose of international law; a certain level of ambiguity concerning the inclusion or (temporary) exclusion of Palestinian refugees from the universal international instruments concerning refugees and stateless persons; the absence of adequate regional instruments dealing with Palestinian refugees; the applicability of seemingly conflicting human rights norms in the context of the search for a durable solution - these are some of the factors that have to be encountered by the student of international law who attempts to determine the status of Palestinian refugees in a comprehensive manner. The main results of the analysis in this study have already been detailed in concluding sections at the end of most chapters. This final chapter summarizes these earlier findings and furthermore contains the author's overall conclusions and recommendations in respect of the study as a whole.

In Part One of the study (chapters II to IV), the status of Palestinian refugees was examined from a refugee law perspective. The concept of a 'Palestinian refugee' in a legal context was introduced in chapter II. It started with a discussion of their general characteristics, pointing out that the study concerns one specific group of refugees: those Palestinians who fled that part of Mandate Palestine which in 1948 became the state of Israel, as a result of the war accompanying the establishment of that state, and who were subsequently prevented from returning thereas well as their descendants. Chapter II consequently examined what distinguishes Palestinian refugees from other categories of forced migrants and why this has led the international community to deal with their status in a different manner. It was shown that for political reasons the Arab states insisted that the Palestinian refugees be the subject of special United Nations attention rather than being included in the mandate of UNHCR. Finally, the various attempts at defining Palestinian refugees were discussed, mainly focusing on the operational definition

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