Palestinian Refugees: Challenges of Repatriation and Development

By Rex Brynen; Roula El-Rifai | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Refugees, repatriation, and development:
Some lessons from recent work

Rex Brynen, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

This chapter will examine the development challenges that will face Palestinian planners and decision-makers as a consequence of any voluntary repatriation of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons to a future Palestinian state. It will do so by highlighting 12 key lessons and policy implications drawn from analytical work undertaken by the World Bank and others in recent years. Many of these lessons are also relevant to donors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and analysts that may be involved in future Palestinian development efforts.

Before undertaking such a task, however, a few caveats are in order. First, this paper makes no assumptions about the relative mix of return (to 1948 areas), repatriation (to a Palestinian state, including any swapped territories formerly part of Israel), continued residency (in current host countries), and resettlement (in third countries) that might be part of a permanent status deal, other than to assume that all of these options will, in one way or another, form part of an agreement. If an agreement includes full recognition of the right of return to areas that are now part of Israel, many refugees may nevertheless opt to either move to, or remain in, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza (WBG). If refugee return is very limited (or even barred) under a peace agreement, the demand for repatriation will be much greater. In any case, there is a moral and practical obligation to address the demographic and developmental consequences of repatriation for Palestinian statehood. This is especially the case since, prior to 2000, little serious work had been done on the

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