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This thesis is a comprehensive study of the negotiations on the Palestinian refugees in the Middle East peace process from 1948 to the present. The Palestinian refugees are an integral part of the Middle East peace process and, according to many analysts, the crux of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, with the right of return as the most difficult aspect of the refugee problem. The history of the refugee issue in the peace process can be divided into three periods. The first period begins with the proposal of UN Mediator Bernadotte in September 1948, which led to the adoption of UN Resolution 194 in December 1948. Resolution 194 created debate on the right of return and led to the Lausanne meetings (1949) which held significant discussion on the refugee issue. As the issue remained unresolved, international attention turned away from a political process to addressing the humanitarian needs of the refugees. During the second period, extending from Camp David I (1978) to the Oslo Process (1993), the refugee issue was subordinated to the questions of Palestinian self-determination and an interim self-government. The signing of the Declaration of Principles at Oslo deferred the refugee question along with Jerusalem, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, to the final status negotiations. The Refugee Working Group, created as a result of the Madrid Conference (1991), was concerned primarily with humanitarian dimension of the problem, such as establishing guidelines for family reunification. The third period extends from the Stockholm talks (1995) to Taba (2001), where serious discussions about a resolution of the final status issues including the refugees, were undertaken. However, with the exception of Camp David II (2000), these talks were between either non-government officials or lower-ranking government officials. Only minimal progress was made on the refugee issue during this period. This lack of progress has been seen by both sides as an indication that this issue will remain a major impediment to peace in future negotiations.
Palestinian Refugees, Negotiations, Right Of Return, Middle East Peace Process
Date of Defense
April 6, 2006.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of International Affairs in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
David Levenson, Professor Directing Thesis; Burton Atkins, Committee Member; Peter Garretson, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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