39 Harv. Int'l. L. J. 171 (1998)
Displaced Palestinians and a Right of Return

handle is hein.journals/hilj39 and id is 177 raw text is: VOLUME 39, NUMBER 1, WINTER 1998

Displaced Palestinians and a
Right of Return
John Quigley*
These unfortunate people [the displaced Palestiniansi should not
be made pawns in the negotiations for a final settlement .
-Dean Rusk, December 3, 19481
Displacement of population has become a frequent item of action in
international bodies in recent years. The hostilities in the Balkans
provide only one example among many of military conflicts accompa-
nied by flight of population.2 International pressure has compelled the
development of new state practice on this issue of wartime displace-
The issue of population displacement has surfaced within the context
of projected settlement negotiations between Israel and the Palestine
Liberation Organization (P.L.O.). These discussions are aimed at resolv-
ing the outstanding Arab-Israeli issues,3 including the status of Pales-
tinians displaced from their homeland as a result of the Arab-Israeli
conflict.4 On the displacement issue, the Palestinians5 assert a right to
return, a claim to which Israel demurs. On the one end of the spec-
* Professor of Law, Ohio State University. A.B., Harvard College, 1962; LL.B., Harvard Law
School, 1966; M.A., Harvard University, 1966. The author is grateful fbr comments on an early
draft to Professors Sally V. Mallison, W. Thomas Malison, and Abdullah Abu-Eid. The author
is grateful for consultation to his colleague Professor Michael Kindred. Translations from non-
English sources are by the author. Professor W. Thomas Mallison passed away shortly before the
publication of this Article. The issue raised in the Article was one close to his heart. To him the
Article is dedicated.
1. Summary Records of Meetings 21 September-8 December 1948, U.N. GAOR, 3d Sess., pt.1, C.1,
at 909, U.N. Doc. A/C.1/SR.226 (1948).
2. See generally infra notes 244-248.
3. See Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, Sept. 13, 1993,
art. 5, 32 INTL LEGAL MATS. 1525, 1529 (agreement between Israel and Palestine Liberation
Organization to negotiate on final status issues, including refugees).
4. This Article will use the term displaced Palestinians, rather than the more common term
refugee, to refer to the this class of persons. Whereas refugee refers to people seeking asylum
in another state, it is the author's contention that displaced Palestinians seek not to stay abroad
but to return to their territory of origin. See, ag., Vojin Dimirrijevic, Legal Position of Palestine
Refugees, 19 Rav. INT'L AF. 427 (1968) (discussion of this terminological issue).
5. For the purposes of this Article, Palestinian refers to Arabs formerly or presently inhab-
iting the territory of interwar Palestine, as well as their direct descendants.

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