Right of return

Can the Palestinians go home?

In the Jubilee vision of Leviticus 25, the dispossessed and disenfranchised are allowed to return to their ancestral homes every 50 years. More than 50 years have passed since the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe of 1948, in which 700,000 Palestinians became refugees and hundreds of Palestinian villages were destroyed by Israeli troops. Those refugees are still awaiting their jubilee year.

While millions of Palestinian refugees languish in overcrowded camps, a vigorous debate is finally under way concerning their future. For decades the refugee issue has been ignored by the Israelis, and after the signing of the Oslo accords the right of return also seemed to disappear from Palestinian political discourse (even as it remained of vital concern for the refugees themselves).

 

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