Affirmation of the Palestinian Right of Return
March 4, 2000

Some 100 prominent Palestinian personalities all over the world (from
Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Arabian Gulf, Europe, UK and
USA) have issued a Declaration affirming the Right of Right of
Palestinian refugees to their homes.

The declaration is sponsored by the following committee members:
Professor Edward Said, Professor Ibrahim Abu Lughod, Dr Salman Abu
Sitta, Mr Bilal Al-Hassan, Dr Faisal  Darraj, Mr Anis F. Kassim,
Professor Khalil Hindi, Dr Haidar Abdel-Shafi, Mrs Rawiyya Shawwa, Mr
Wakim Wakim, Mr Mohammad Mi'ari and Mr Shafiq al Hout.

The Declaration will be presented to heads of Arab governments and PLO,
to European, UK and USA governments and to UN General Secretary, in
addition to other regional organizations. The signatories are from all
walks of Palestinian life and do not represent any political

 Affirmation of the Palestinian Right of Return

We the Palestinian signatories to this Declaration, Cognizant of the facts

Our people have been expelled from their homes in 531 towns and villages
in  Palestine in 1948 by the Zionist and Israeli military forces and their
land,  comprising 92% of Israel, has been confiscated,

Our people have endured 51 years of exile, ravages of war, oppression,
denial of national identity and racism and have been the victim of
the largest ethnic cleansing operation, unprecedented in modern history
and designed to replace them with Jewish immigrants from all over the

Two thirds of our people, over five million refugees and uprooted,
represent the largest and oldest group of the refugees in the world,

In spite of overwhelming international consensus supported by
hundreds of  UN  resolutions, our people are still unable to fulfill their
natural right to  return home,

Therefore we affirm the following.

The right of the Palestinian refugees and the uprooted to return to
their homes is a fundamental right under the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, the European, the American and the African
Conventions on Human Rights,

The right of the Palestinian refugees and the uprooted to return to
their homes is an inalienable right and has been affirmed by the UN
resolution No 194 over 110 times since 1948,

The Right of Return is derived from the sanctity of private ownership
which cannot be extinguished by new sovereignty or occupation and does
not have a statute of limitation; it is according to this principle that
the European Jews claimed successfully the restitution of their lost
property in W.W.II, without the benefit of a single UN resolution,

The Right of Return is essentially an individual right which cannot
be delegated, diminished, reduced or forfeited by any representation on
behalf  of the Palestinians in any agreement or treaty,

The Right of Return is not substituted or affected in any way by the
establishment of  a Palestinian state in any form,

Accordingly, we hereby declare that,

We absolutely do not accept or recognize any outcome of negotiations
which may lead to an agreement that forfeits any part of the right of
return of  the refugees and the uprooted to their homes from where they were
expelled in 1948, or their due compensation, and we do not accept
compensation as a substitute for return,

We demand due reparations for the psychological suffering, the material
losses and damages and War Crimes which the refugees endured for 51
years in accordance with international law and legal precedents,

As we sign here, members of the Palestinian people from all walks of
life, including the refugees in the Palestinian territory where 29% live
and the  rest scattered in the rest of the world,

Appeal to fair-minded people, human rights advocates, the international
community, the United Nations, and the world governments, particularly
those who were involved in the Palestinian tragedy, to recognize and
support by all available means the right of the Palestinians to return home,
in  addition to their compensation, realizing that just and comprehensive
peace can only prevail in the Middle East upon the implementation of
the Right of  Return for the largest and oldest refugee problem in the