Palestinian Refugees: Challenges of Repatriation and Development

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

CHAPTER 7
Planning in support of negotiations:
The refugee issue

Khalil Nijem, Ministry of Planning, Palestinian National Authority


INTRODUCTION

Since its establishment in 1994, the Ministry of Planning (MOP) of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has been engaged in the formulation of various plans that have been used to guide the PNA, the private sector and civil society in meeting the challenges of Palestinian development. Forecasting future population levels in the West Bank and Gaza (WBG) is an integral part of planning. The increasing population, resulting from a combination of high natural growth and the anticipated influx of returnees, poses a challenge to development on all levels and across all sectors. In this respect, the refugee issue is one of the major challenging uncertainties facing Palestinian politicians and planners alike and shall continue to be so until it is resolved during final status negotiations between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli Government.

The PNA is anticipating that negotiations will include a discussion of Israeli responsibility for the creation of the refugee issue; recognition of the principle of the refugees' right of return; and mutual agreement on how the refugee issue will be resolved. During the last round of final status negotiations in Taba in January 2001, five options for refugee return and repatriation were discussed: (1) return to Israel; (2) settlement in a Palestinian state; (3) settlement in a host (Arab) country in which the refugees currently reside; (4) resettlement to a third country; and (5) settlement in 'swapped' lands that were formerly part of Israel. Compensation is also expected to

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