This question addresses the issue of Palestinian refugees. During the first Arab-Israeli war, ~700,000-800,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes. A separate and unique UN effort, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), was created to carry out direct relief and works programs for the displaced Palestinians. UNRWAs official definition of a Palestinian refugee is, “Persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict. The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.”

Thus, according to UNRWA, descendants of the refugees will also have refugee status. This places the number of refugees in the millions. UNRWA states, “Today, some 5 million Palestinian refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.” These descendants are now throughout the world including, but not limited to: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, US, Canada, Europe.

The issue is whether the Palestinian Refugees have a right to return to their ancestral homes or their equivalent within modern day Israel. This is a very difficult issue because if there is a full right of return—including the descendants of refugees—then there would no longer be a Jewish majority in the state of Israel. Many Palestinians, and some others, see this as a non-negotiable right and don’t see any comprehensive solution without giving the full right of return to all of the Palestinian refugees. To reconcile this, previous initiatives have proposed a full right of return, but in the future Palestinian State (West Bank & Gaza), and a limited, and symbolic, return of some refugees to Israel.

Discussions focused on the right of return and how to solve the refugee issue. These conversations tend to be the most complex and emotionally charged.

Below are the participants’ approximate location on the issue based on their responses. When their responses did not fit exactly under one category, they were placed in between the two categories at a place which most closely resembled their stances. Occasionally, their placement represents what they think should happen rather than what they want. Click the name to see what they had to say.



Links to material referenced in responses: UN resolution 194