The Palestine Papers
Note on Refugee Calculation

Notes describing strategy and calculation methods regarding acceptable refugee figures (Israeli absorption, etc.).

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Recommendation: Only specify the formula by which an agreed solution will be achieved in the Treaty.


  •  This approach is obviously the best political strategic option for the Palestinians, as it does not require relinquishing the option of return for millions of Palestinians, but it is also the most practical approach.
  •  The number of returnees to Israel is a question of detail that belongs in a comprehensive peace agreement. The numbers are not a matter of principle but application of the principles.
  •  Moreover, the number of returnees to Israel should only be decided in the context of a comprehensive, multi-lateral solution on refugees laying out the full menu of destination options for the refugees so as to ensure that all refugees are offered a solution to their situation (it is unreasonable to assume that all will be able to be resettled in the Palestinian state).
  •  At this point, all that is required is a formulation setting out the principle of implementation that any return to Israel will be phased over time and determined in agreement with each side.


Alternative: Specify the numbers according to a methodology that better conforms to Palestinian interests and needs


  •  Such an approach may be based on Israel?s actual absorption capacity. Israel?s maximum absorption capacity based on past immigrant absorption is at least 60,927 per year (average number of immigrants over 20 year period).
  •  Viewed another way, Israel?s past absorption practice indicates that they have the capacity to settle 1,016,511 million persons over a 10 year period (from 1990-2000).
  •  This methodology can be developed and rationalized further upon instructions.