Palestinian Refugees and the Negotiations for Permanent Status

Survey Report

August 2001

Introduction:

During the past year, IPCRI conducted 48 Town Meetings in nine refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza aimed at involving the refugee population more in the discussions concerning their own future. A report of those meetings can be found at [THIS LINK].

That report aims at presenting the findings of IPCRI staff as heard directly from the refugees who participated in the meetings.

At the conclusion of the town meetings, we conducted a public opinion poll amongst Palestinian refugees. This report deals with the opinions of Palestinian refugees and their views of issues regarding the right of return and negotiating the refugee issue.

PROCESS

Population:

The study included refugees from 1948 and displaced people from 1967. The sample included Palestinians distributed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank throughout 16 locations in camps, villages, towns and cities. A random sample of 1,830 was picked, from which 183 were dropped due to irregularities.

Methods:

Trained researchers distributed surveys consisting of two forms, the first includes demographic information, the second contained the survey questions with multiple choice answers.

Population Totals

The study was conducted in the following locations:

City

Surveys

Ramallah

32

Ein Arik (1)

20

Birzeit (2)

8

Nablus

16

Qataneh (3)

50

Gaza

11

Doha (4)

15

Tulkarm

180

Fara’a

90

Ama’ari

95

Qalandia

140

Aroob

135

Jabalia

298

Nuseirat

275

Khan Yunes

235

Shu’fat

47

  1. 8 km West of Ramallah
  2. Center for 45 refugee families
  3. 14 km northwest of Jerusalem. Registered refugees, owners of confiscated properties
  4. South of Beit Jala

Random Sample Selection

A total of 1,830 samples were picked at random, collected as follows:

  • The study areas were divided into sectors, 4 in Gaza Strip and 12 in the West Bank.
  • A total of 34 field researchers (who are residents of the area) were recruited and trained.
  • The sectors were divided into sub sectors and houses were selected at random from each sub sector. On person was interviewed from each 6th house. As for larger urban areas, assistance was located from UNRWA and local residents to determine target groups.
  • Detailed demographic information is retained about each participant’s household.
  • Additional effort was spent in follow-up to collect late surveys and to insure surveys are accurate and complete.

Difficulties encountered while collecting the surveys:

  • In light of the charged political environment, some of the participants refused to answer some of the questions.
  • Many participants felt that political decision makers never consider their opinions, thus, thought the effort was useless.
  • The study could not be expanded because of time constraints
  • The study included several social classes; the field researchers found it particularly difficult to survey the elderly and the illiterate.
  • Some of the surveys were never returned, some required additional efforts to collect.
  • Some of the participants were harassed by bystanders who thought that participation of such survey indicated willingness to compromise
  • Field researches faced difficulties due to closures and the deteriorating security situation
  • Lack of research and study material dealing with the subject of the survey
  • Lack of awareness about political issues, particularly international resolutions and refugee rights.
  • One field researcher was beaten and apprehended for 4 hours by the Israeli army at a checkpoint.
  • Data analysis for a huge sample required long time.
  • Difficulty in gathering the surveys from several locations due to closures, particularly between Gaza and Jerusalem

 

The Survey

1. International legitimacy should be the basis for negotiating the refugee problem

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

2. International resolutions should be applied in resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, including UN Resolution 194

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

3. The refugee problem is the core of the Palestinian problem

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

4. Lasting peace in the Middle East is tied to the return of the refugees to their homes

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

5. Compensation is not an alternative to return

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

6. Family reunification can be considered return

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

7. Return must be to exact places of original residence

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

8. Return means going back to the 1948 territories, not to PA controlled territories

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

9. The right of return is an eternal right

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

10. Palestinian negotiators are capable of dealing with Israeli negotiators about the right of return

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

11. Israeli negotiators will stick to their positions about the refugees (meaning no return) even if it hinders reaching other agreements.

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

12. Palestinian refugees will insist on their right of return regardless of where they are presently residing

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

13. Palestinian refugees will refuse resettlement where they currently reside

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • No opinion

14. The right of return means:

    • Return to areas controlled by the PA
    • Return to original home towns

15. In the event that the refugees are given an opportunity to return, you will:

    • Return to your original home town
    • Will not return to your original home town
    • Don’t know

16. If given the right to return to original hometown, would you accept living under Israeli sovereignty and citizenship

    • Yes
    • No
    • Don’t know

17. In your opinions, does the PLO have the right to concede on the right of return?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Don’t know

18. If given the following choices, which will you choose?

    • Return without compensation
    • A package combining compensation without return, family reunification and settling in PA areas.
    • Resettlement
    • There will be no solution
    • Don’t know

19. What is your position -as a refugee- should an unsatisfactory solution is reached?

    • Giving in to reality
    • Objecting and disputing the agreement
    • Finding other means to express rejection
    • Confrontations using force
    • Don’t know

20. Do you support or object to the following phrase: “It is not possible to accept a peace agreement which does not include the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their native homelands”.

    • I support
    • I object
    • Don’t know

21. If it is mandated that compensation be provided as an alternative to return, you will accept

    • Individual compensation for each refugee
    • Collective compensation for the Palestinian State
    • Will not accept any compensation
    • Don’t know

22. Resolution 194, issued on December 11, 1948 states “ … refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible”, after 53 years of living and suffering as refugees, does it ..

    • Fulfill you ambitions
    • Provides -in part- some of your rights
    • Represents the minimum possible
    • No opinion

Comments

The overwhelming majority of the refugee population in the West Bank and Gaza see the refugee issue as the core of the conflict. According to them the problem must be resolved within the framework of international legitimacy meaning the implementation of UN Resolution 194.

In general, it can be said that the above 60 age group is much less sure in their answers to many questions regarding this issue.

  • Almost all refugees agree that they will not accept compensation instead of return, however those refugees aged 60 and over, 16.4% did indicate that this was not true as opposed to 98.7% of the general refugee population who strong agree or agreethat compensation cannot replace return.

  • The option of “family reunification” is universally rejected as a possible solution to the refugee problem.

  • With regard to trust in the ability of Palestinian negotiations to produce positive results, the above 60 age group was much more adamant in their lack of faith (89.8%) as opposed to 78.8% who lack faith in the negotiators.

  • Only 11.7% of the above 60 age group indicated that they would be willing to return to their places of origin even if it meant living under Israeli sovereignty. 29.7% of this group indicated that they don’t know if they would accept return to their original places of origin if it meant living under Israeli sovereignty and 58.6% indicated that they would not agree to live under Israeli sovereignty as opposed to 85.2% of the general refugee population who responded that they would agree to live under Israeli sovereignty after returning to their places of origin and only 11.7% of the general population rejected living under Israeli sovereignty.

  • 68.9% of the general refugee public indicated that they would accept return even if it meant that there was no compensation as opposed to less than one percent of the above 60 age group who indicated an agreement to this proposal. 21.9% of the above 60 age group indicated a willingness to accept relocation and resettlement as opposed to only 3.6% of the general refugee public.

  • 60% of the above 60 age group believe that there would be no solution to the refugee problem as opposed to 23.7% of the general population.

  • 93.1% of the general public indicated that they would not accept compensation in place of return as opposed to 66.4% of the above 60 age group, an additional 33.6% of this group indicated that they did not know what they would do if offered compensation instead of return.

 

 

QUESTION

PERCENT

Age above 60

International legitimacy should be the basis for negotiating the refugee problem

Strongly agree

78.3

97.7

Agree

21.6

0

Disagree

0.0

2.3

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

0.2

0.0

 

International resolutions should be applied in resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, including UN Resolution 194

Strongly agree

67.5

57.0

Agree

28.7

0

Disagree

0.0

0

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

3.8

43.0

 

 

 

The refugee problem is the core of the Palestinian problem

Strongly agree

89.0

98.4

Agree

10.9

0.8

Disagree

0.0

0.0

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0.0

No opinion

0.1

0.8

 

 

 

Lasting peace in the Middle East is tied to the return of the refugees to their homes

Strongly agree

86.8

83.6

Agree

11.8

0.0

Disagree

0.0

0.0

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0.0

No opinion

1.3

16.4

 

 

 

Compensation is not an alternative to return

Strongly agree

81.5

82.0

Agree

17.2

1.6

Disagree

0.0

16.4

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

1.3

0

 

Family reunification can be considered return

Strongly agree

0.3

0

Agree

4.8

0

Disagree

26.1

0.8

Strongly Disagree

67.8

99.2

No opinion

1.0

0

 

 

 

Return must be to exact places of original residence

Strongly agree

90.9

97.7

Agree

8.9

0

Disagree

0.0

0

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

0.2

2.3

 

 

 

Return means going back to the 1948 territories, not to PA controlled territories

Strongly agree

90.8

100.0

Agree

9.2

0

Disagree

0.0

0

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

0.0

0

 

 

 

Palestinian negotiators are capable of dealing with Israeli negotiators about the right of return

Strongly agree

6.3

1.6

Agree

12.6

0.8

Disagree

52.9

7.0

Strongly Disagree

25.9

89.8

No opinion

2.3

0.8

 

 

 

Israeli negotiators will stick to their positions about the refugees (meaning no return) even if it hinders reaching other agreements

Strongly agree

85.9

70.3

Agree

11.1

0

Disagree

0.4

4.7

Strongly Disagree

0.1

0.8

No opinion

2.6

24.2

 

 

 

Palestinian refugees will insist on their right of return regardless of where they are presently residing

Strongly agree

84.8

78.9

Agree

13.4

0

Disagree

0.0

0

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

1.9

21.1

 

 

 

Palestinian refugees will refuse resettlement where they currently reside

Strongly agree

80.3

91.4

Agree

18.9

0

Disagree

0.2

2.3

Strongly Disagree

0.0

0

No opinion

0.6

6.3

 

 

 

The right of return means:

Return to areas controlled by the PA

2.9

0

Return to original home towns

97.1

100.0

 

 

 

In the event that the refugees are given an opportunity to return, you will:

Return to your original home town

96.7

63.3

Will not return to your original home town

0.2

2.3

Don’t know

3.2

34.4

 

 

 

If given the right to return to original hometown, would you accept living under Israeli sovereignty and citizenship

Yes

85.2

11.7

No

11.7

58.6

Don't Know

3.1

29.7

 

 

 

In your opinions, does the PLO have the right to concede on the right of return?

Yes

1.5

0.0

No

96.5

77.3

Don't Know

1.9

22.7

 

If given the following choices, which will you choose?

Return without compensation

68.9

0.8

A package combining compensation without return, family reunification and settling in PA areas.

2.4

0

Resettlement

3.6

21.9

There will be no solution

23.7

60.9

Don’t know

1.3

16.4

 

 

 

What is your position -as a refugee- should an unsatisfactory solution is reached?

Giving in to reality

0.9

0.0

Objecting and disputing the agreement

1.7

0.0

Finding other means to express rejection

30.5

0.0

Confrontations using force

64.5

70.3

Don’t know

2.4

29.7

 

 

 

Do you support or object to the following phrase: “It is not possible to accept a peace agreement which does not include the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their native homelands”.

I support

97.4

67.2

I object

0.0

0.0

I don't know

2.6

32.8

 

 

 

If it is mandated that compensation be provided as an alternative to return, you will accept

Individual compensation for each refugee

3.3

0

Collective compensation for the Palestinian State

0.9

0

Will not accept any compensation

93.1

66.4

Don't Know

2.8

33.6