Conference For the Right of Return – Conclusive Document

Paris 4 December 2004

Appeal for the setting-up of a Permanent International Committee For the Unconditional Right of All Palestinian Refugees to Return to Their Homes

Having heard all the contributions made in the Conference For the Right of Return for All Palestinian Refugees, the participants declare: nothing can justify denying the right of the Palestinian people to live and to return to live on their ancestral land. No-one can be considered a defender of democracy, of freedom and of human rights, if s/he does not support not only the recognition but also the application of the Right of Return of every Palestinian refugee to his/her land of origin – a historic, collective and individual right – without limitation or restriction, whatever the date of his/her expulsion or that of his/her family since 1947.

Our Conference has established on the basis of the facts that all the attempts made to bring a solution to the inhuman situation of the Palestinian refugees who were driven from their land have only resulted in a worsening of the suffering imposed on the Palestinian people.

We have noted that there is an explanation for this. The right to live in one’s ancestral homeland is a right that in principle is recognised for all peoples. But this right is being denied to the Palestinian people. And the reason it is being denied is that the very principles which form the foundation for the State of Israel rest on a discrimination which recognises rights for the Jewish populations which are denied to the Arab populations.

No-one would deny the terrible genocide suffered by the Jewish populations in Europe under the Nazi regime (a genocide in which the Palestinian people carries no responsibility). But can this justify a situation in which Jews have rights in the land of Palestine which are denied to non-Jews?

There is a Jewish question.

Is there not a Palestinian question?

The universal principles of peoples, justice and law define as discriminatory and racist those states founded on the denial of rights to one part of the population due to its religion, culture or language.

Is this reality not the reason for the failure of all the attempts to bring a response to the refugee question within the framework of “political solutions” which, from Oslo to Geneva via Madrid boil down to continuing the partition and discrimination under the widest range of forms (two states, cantons, etc.)?

Resolving the refugee question cannot be achieved without a global solution to the conflict. A solution which brings peace. In other words, a solution that satisfies the interests of both the Arab masses and the Jewish masses.

This is why we, the undersigned, have reached the conclusion that the effective application of the right of each refugee to return to his/her land demands a national and democratic political solution, in other words one which excludes all form of discrimination and inequality between the citizens of the same state. That political solution is, in our opinion, the building of a secular democratic state covering the whole of the historic territory of and strictly guaranteeing equal rights to all its component parts, irrespective of religions, languages and cultures.

This is, in our opinion, a solution that recognises justice, that recognises the peoples, right to determine their own future in the interests of everyone, of the Palestinian Arab masses as well as of the Jewish masses themselves. Because the legitimate aspiration for peace cannot be satisfied on the ground of injustice, of oppression, of occupation, of inequality and racial discrimination.

These are our conclusions. We do not seek to impose them on anyone. But it is on this basis, respecting democracy, that we hereby decide to form a Permanent International Committee For the Unconditional Right of All Palestinian Refugees to Return to Their Homes.

We call on all men and women throughout the world who love justice and freedom to join our Committee, to organise in each country Conferences For the Unconditional Right of Return like the one we have just organised in Paris, and to engage in even more initiatives and activities in every form for the unconditional Right of Return.

We propose to publish a regular liaison bulletin of our Committee.

Join us for the right of the Palestinian people to live free in its independent state, for the right of the Palestinian people to take its destiny into its own hands.*

*Endorsement Coupon To be returned to 87 rue du Faubourg Saint Denis 75010 Paris e-mail à :

I support this appeal and wish to be one of the first initiators of the Permanent International Committee For the Unconditional Right of All Palestinian Refugees to Return to Their Homes: on behalf of my organisation

in a personal capacity



Address (including Country):



The full report on the Conference will be published in Dialogue, a review for discussion among Arab and Jewish activists of Palestine, which is published in Arabic, Hebrew, English and French. The messages and contributions sent by activists who were unable to attend the Conference will also be published. The Conference sent its greetings to the Palestinian political prisoners.

First endorsers:Abou-Srour Abdelfattah, Alrowwad cultural center Aïda Camp (Palestine), Al Ali Mahmoud ; A’doun (Lebanon), Al Awad Walid Secretary of the Commission of Refugees of the Palestinian National Council (Gaza Palestine) ; Al Barnousi Mohesen (Netherlands) ; Al Hasen Zeinab (Palestine) ; Al Hindi Musa (USA) ; Aminov Eli Committee for a secular and democratic republic (Israël) ; Arar Tarek (Palestine) ; B. Mounia (Morocco) ; Barrois Jean-Pierre, Dialogue (France) ; Ben Henda Mohamed, Committee of Tunisians in Switzerland (Switzerland) ; Challier Alain, sculptor (France) ; Chicouard Alain, Dialogue (France) ; Choukri Latif, Committee in support of the Palestinian People (Tunisia) ; Djoudi Djelloul, Member of Parliament (Algeria) ; Doriane Olivier (France), Eemans Janine (France) ; Ferré Dominique Dialogue ( France) ; Gamzon Daniel (France) ; Gluckstein Daniel, Dialogue (France) ; Goulart Serge, Palestinian People Solidarity Committee (Brazil) ; Grim Malika (Algeria) ; Hayon Samy Dialogue (France) ; Housset Michel (France) ; Husar Krista US Friends of Dialogue (USA) ; Kaiyal Mohamed ADRID Committee in defence of the rights of the refugees (Palestine) ; Karmi Ghada Vice-Chair, Council for Arab-British Understanding (UK) ; Kupferman Yehuda, Committee for a secular and democratic republic (Israel) ; Lazar François, Dialogue (France) ; Madi Rania Women for Development (Palestine) ; Mahmoud Adeeb (France) ; Mansouri Mohamed-Anis Dialogue (France) ; Musih Norma Zochrot (Israël) ; Musa Mahmoud (Canada) ; Nasrallah Tayseer Committee in defence of the rights of the Palestinian refugees – Yafa Cultural Center Balata camp Nablus (Palestine) ; Nedjari Kader (France), Ouettar Tahar writer (Algeria) ; Rubinstein-Carrera Hélène lawyer (France) ; Salah Salah Chair of the Commission of Refugees of the Palestinian National Council (Palestine) ; Samara Adel University teacher ( Palestine ) ; Shavit Israel ( Israel) ; Sleibi Sohel Abna Al Balad – Sons of the land – (Palestine) ; Suleiman Jaber Coordinator of A’idun -Right Of Return advocacy group- (Lebanon ) ; Yacoub Mohammad (Palestine).

Thanks to Samia for bringing this to my attention!


2 responses to “Conference For the Right of Return – Conclusive Document

  1. I am a bit confused. Perhaps it is my age. Do you mean all Palestianians should have the right to move into what is now Israel and, at the same time, there should be a new state for the Palestinians…does that mean two homes for each? And, what of the 750 thousandJewish refugees, booted from Arab countries?

  2. Fred, all Palestinians who were forced to leave, who left for fear of their safety, in any of the various moments of the history of Israel, are guaranteed by international law to return. This right does not expire, no matter what political or national entity controls the territory. It is, in fact, an individual right, not a collective right.

    If you look a little deeply, you might discover that the places which they were expelled from (for reasons of creating a buffer zone or other “security” reasons, as well as to permit the settlement of new inhabitants) were either completely razed, or were entirely abandoned. The resettlement would basically be in the rural areas which were the source of income to a largely agricultural society, and not so much to the cities which are where Jews concentrate their presence.

    Studies have shown (in fact, on this blog you will find Abu Sitta discussing elements of the implementation of the Right of Return which should tranquilize your worries about the Jewish population) that there will be minimal displacement, if any, of Jews and that demographic balance of ethnically cohesive zones will basically continue as it currently is.

    The Right of Return is not dependent upon any national system, be it that of one single entity or two, and this is for the reason that it is an individual right. Those choosing to not take advantage of their right, are nevertheless subject to complete compensation for the expropriation and losses they underwent.

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