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For the PA, “peace” means destroying Israel by flooding it with 5.6 million Palestinian “refugees”

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |
  • Every year, on May 15, the PA commemorates the “Nakba Day” - the “Catastrophe” of the creation of Israel.

  • Palestinian officials use the day to promote the false Palestinian narrative about the number of original “refugees”

  • Since its creation, the PA has brainwashed the Palestinians to believe that every “refugee” will return to live in Israel.

  • 41% of the Palestinian population that lives in the areas controlled by the PA are still considered “refugees.”

  • PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas preferred to leave Palestinians in Syria to die in the civil war, rather than accept them into the PA and agree to waive their “refugee” status.

  • Having made grandiose commitments and even objected to the refugees being naturalized in the countries in which they are living, it is inconceivable that any Palestinian leader will be able to compromise on this point.

“Were charity alone to be provided for another year [to the Palestinian refugees], it would be more difficult and costly to take constructive measures later. Nevertheless, the extent of direct relief provided through United Nations funds should be stringently cut within the next two months. There is no doubt that, however commendable it may be to extend international charity to the needy, rations greatly in excess of the number justifiable within the original intentions of the General Assembly of the United Nations have been and are being issued.”

[First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East, 1949]

One of the most fundamental demands of the Palestinian Authority for any peace deal with Israel, is that Israel allow every person they define as a “Palestinian refugee” to settle in Israel. In practical terms, this means that the PA expects Israel - that has a population of nine million people, including two million Israeli Arabs – to absorb all of the 5,629,829 so-called Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The constant reminder of this demand is the Palestinian “Nakba Day.” The word “Nakba” means “catastrophe” in Arabic, and Palestinians use it to mark the day after the establishment of Israel (May 14, 1948), when combined forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq joined local Arab forces in an attempt to eradicate the newly established State of Israel.

A program broadcast on official PA TV, captured the essence of the PA sentiment regarding the creation of the State of Israel:

“The anniversary (i.e., Nakba Day; see note below) reminds us of the day our land was robbed and stolen, the day our history was stolen, our land and our history – which we have never lost. The day on which an entire people was expelled from its land, so that its place would be taken by gangs that used murder and intimidation as a means to spread fear and panic among the people… The Zionist movement – with the support and patronage of colonialism – took control over 79% of the territory of historical Palestine at the time.
Nearly 950,000 of our people were uprooted from their villages and cities in 1948…
The Nakba was the last stop in a chain of plots led by the states of the West at the time to settle the Jews in the land of Palestine, and to get rid of the Jewish problem in Europe and the world at the expense of our people, its land, and its history.”

[Official PA TV, Simply Put, May 15 and 16, 2020]

Understanding who the people the PA defines as “Palestinian refugees” and their original number is integral to understanding the Palestinian demand. This point was made clear by PA Chairman Abbas, in a speech he gave to the Fatah Central Committee in which he stressed that in anticipation of “Nakba Day”:  

“I wish to comment on one point, and it is the number of refugees who were expelled in 1948.
The number of refugees who were expelled from their homes – and I say that a refugee is not someone who was removed from their homeland, but rather someone who was removed from their home – is 950,000. I remember that when we went to the [peace] talks at Camp David [in 2000], the Israelis said that the number of refugees was 250,000, most of whom had died…
No, the official number that is registered at the UN is 950,000. I read 800,000 and 850,000 a couple of days ago in one of the media outlets. No, their number is 950,000. The definition of a refugee is a person who is expelled from their home to another home, and therefore whoever was removed from Jaffa to Ramallah is a refugee, and whoever went from Ashkelon to Gaza is a refugee. The meaning [of refugee] is not just someone who left the homeland.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 6, 2020]

Official PA TV News echoed the figure of 950,000 refugees:

Official PA TV newsreader: “Yesterday, Friday [May 15, 2020], was the 72nd anniversary of our people’s Nakba, whose outcome was the expulsion of approximately 950,000 Palestinians from their cities and towns.”

[Official PA TV News, May 16, 2020]

Analysis of Abbas’ statement and the PA narrative expose their inaccuracies.

How many Palestinian refugees were there in 1948?
First and foremost, Abbas’ claim that “the official number [of refuges] that is registered at the UN is 950,000”, is simply false. The UN has never had an “official number” of Palestinian refugees and the estimates that appear in UN documents were much lower:
UN General Assembly resolution 194, which the PA quotes as the basis for their demand that every refugee be allowed into Israel, does not stipulate any number of refugees. UN General Assembly resolution 212 refers to only 500,000 refugees. Both resolutions were adopted in 1948, before the armistice agreements between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries were reached.
The First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East from November 1949 (“the Interim Report”) prefaces any discussion on the subject of the number of refugees by saying, “No one knows exactly how many refugees there are.” Having said that, the report continues “The number of refugees, in the sense of persons who have fled from Israel and are unable to return, is estimated, from the most up-to-date data available, at 726,000.” This figure was reached months after armistice agreements had been signed and no fighting was underway.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) website notes that “When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees.” This number is made up of the 726,000 refugees estimated by the United Nations Economic Survey mission with the addition of the 25,000 people “who still live at home, but are without means because they are separated from their lands by the armistice lines.”
A report of the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine submitted in 1951, notes that while no accurate number of refugees existed, the committee adopted the estimate of the UN statistical expert (which it believed to be as accurate as circumstances permitted), which indicated that ”the refugees from Israel-controlled territory amount to approximately 711,000.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), that is also headed by Mahmoud Abbas, appears to adopt the findings of the Interim Report, claiming that “From 1947 to 1949, more than 726,000 Palestinians were expelled from or forced to leave their homes and became refugees prior to, and immediately following, Israel’s statehood declaration.” The reference to 1947 would appear to refer to the Nov. 29, 1947 UN Partition plan, rejected by the Arab countries.
A so-called “fact sheet” posted this year on the website of PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Shtayyeh, to mark the 72th anniversary of the “Nakba” claims that “800,000 Palestinians or more were displaced.” A similar figure was presented on official PA TV:

Text: “1948: The expulsion and migration of more than 800,000”

 [Official PA TV, May 15, 20020]

In a study authored by Professor Efraim Karsh of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs at Bar Ilan University, Karsh quotes an August 3, 1948 article in the New York Times, which set the number of refugees as of the date of the article at 300,000 people. Karsh continues to explain how the real number of refugees was closer to 540,000-590,000 people.

Where did the refugees go and how many are there today?

The Interim Report records the movement of the refugees as follows:

280,000 refugees entered the area described in the 1947 UN Partition Plan as Judea and Samaria. Joining the 460,000 people who were already residents, the refugees then became 38% of the population, and lived under Jordanian rule. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 858,758 refugees in Judea and Samaria, who live under Palestinian Authority rule.

200,000 refugees entered the Gaza Strip from 1947-1949, joining the 70,000 people who were already resident there, becoming 74% of the population, and lived under Egyptian rule. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 1,460,315 refugees in Gaza Strip.

97,000 refugees crossed into Lebanon. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 476,033 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

75,000 refugees crossed into Syria. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 562,312 Palestinian refugees in Syria.

70,000 refugees crossed the Jordan River and entered the then newly created Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which had achieved independence just two years prior in May 1946. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 2,272,411 Palestinian refugees in Jordan.    

4,000 refugees travelled to Iraq.

The following chart summarizes the above figures and shows the growth of the number of refugees from Mandate Palestine in 1948 to the present day:

Number of Arab refugeesWhere did they go?

Refugee population according to UNRWA 1994-1995

Refugee population according to UNRWA as of Dec. 31, 2019

280,000Judea and Samaria517,412858,758
200,000Gaza Strip683,5601,460,315
4,000IraqNot availableNot available

UNRWA defines “Palestine refugees” as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

The Interim Report recorded that 50% of the original refugees were 16 years old and above. Those remaining of these people would now be at least 88 years old. The remaining 50% were under 16 years old and would today be between 72 and 87 years old.

While death by natural causes resulted in an annual reduction of the number of actual refugees from Palestine, UNRWA statistics clearly show that the number listed as Palestinian refugees is growing, and at a considerable rate.

This anomaly is the result of a unique refugee definition adopted by UNRWA, specifically for the refugees from Palestine, which allows for “The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children” to be registered as refugees.

These figures are significant, in order to understand Abbas’ second claim, “that a refugee is not someone who was removed from their homeland, but rather someone who was removed from their home.” This definition is also critical to understand the Palestinian narrative. In other words, for Abbas and the PA, Palestinians who lived in Jaffa in 1948 and now live in Ramallah under the PA are considered to be refugees.

As the above figures show, when the PA was created (1994-1995) over 1.2 million of the Palestinians registered as refugees lived in areas that were under the PA’s control. In the last 25 years, that refugee population has nearly doubled to 2.26 million.

According to Abbas and the PA, while these descendants of the refugees live in areas that Abbas and the PA claim as the “State of Palestine” - i.e., Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip - from the PA’s point of view they too are promised the right to enter and settle in Israel as part of any settlement to the conflict.

According to statistics provided by official PA TV, 41% of the Palestinian population living in the PA controlled areas are refugees (26% of the residents of Judea and Samaria and 64% of the residents of Gaza are refugees):

“The rate of the refugee residents in the State of Palestine
has reached approximately 41%”

“The rate of refugees in the
West Bank reaches 26%”
“The rate of refugees in the
Gaza Strip reaches 64%”

Using a key as symbol, the PA, the PLO, and Fatah - all headed by Abbas - constantly promise the “return” of the refugees. The following are just a sample of examples of this message from this year’s “Nakba” events:

Text on signs: “The return is a right that passes as an inheritance
72nd anniversary of the Nakba
Posted text: “The return is a right that passes as an inheritance

[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]





Text on logo: “We will return to Palestine 72 [years since the Nakba]”
Posted text: “#We_will_return_to_Palestine_72”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]

The image is a circular logo showing the PA map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel as “Palestine” together with the PA areas. Next to the PA map is the Palestinian flag and in front of it is the Dome of the Rock and a tent with a fist rising up from it holding a key symbolizing the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.”




Text on image: “We will return to Palestine 72 [years since the Nakba]

The PLO Department of Refugee Affairs
The [PLO] Supreme National Committee to Commemorate Nakba Day
72 years since the Nakba – May 15

The right of return
Is a firm right
That is irrevocable

#Stay_at_home” (i.e., due to Coronavirus epidemic –Ed.)

Posted text: “#We_will_return_to_Palestine_72”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]


Posted text and text on image: “72 years since the Nakba
And the key is still standing firm”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]








Text on PA map: “Returning
72 years”
On the left is a historical photograph of Palestinian refugees walking in front of vehicles packed with belongings.

Text at bottom of image: “The 72nd anniversary of the Nakba”

Posted text: “The 72nd anniversary of the Nakba of Palestine
The return is a sacred and firm right that is irrevocable
The refugees are the cause and the return is the solution

[Official Facebook page of the PA Presidential Guard, May 15, 2020]


Text on image: “One day we will return and we will wave the flag.”

[Official Fatah Facebook page,
May 14, 2020]

The image shows an elderly Palestinian man sitting next to a child at the entrance to a tent on the right, and below them the text in English: “Nakba 1948”.  In the center is the Dome of the Rock. In the upper left is a dove in flight with a key around its neck symbolizing the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.” In the top left corner is the Palestinian flag. In the bottom left corner is the Fatah logo.


Expanding on the promise of “return” for the refugees, PA Mufti of Jerusalem and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein said:

“Today, Friday [May 15, 2020], is the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba … Palestine belongs to its people who adhere to the right of return, which has no statute of limitations, since the keys of the homes are still with their owners in the [refugee] camps of the diaspora. The adults have died and the young have remained with more strength than their predecessors in their adherence to their land and holy sites, and our rights will not be lost... We are the group that is carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic) and standing firm in anticipation that Allah will give us the joy of liberation and our Palestinian people’s return to their lands and homes from which they were expelled.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2020]

Emphasizing what the Palestinians see as the inalienable nature of the right of return, PLO Executive Committee member and Head of the PLO Department of Refugee Affairsand the PLO Supreme National Committee, Ahmad Abu Houli said:

“The right of return will remain a judicial, legal, and international document of proof in the hands of the Palestinian refugees that no one can steal from them or erase from the Palestinian memory.
The Palestinian refugees have a right, homeland, and land, and that their return to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948, according to [UN] Resolution 194, is the basis for any solution. Their return to their homes is not impossible, and that what is impossible is to forget this right, to relinquish it, or to accept the refugees’ naturalization [in their host countries]…

 [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 15, 2020]

The PLO Supreme National Committee to Commemorate Nakba Day sent a letter to UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in which they emphasized:

“The Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948, according to what appears in [UN] Resolution 194, is a firm historical and legal sacred right that has no statute of limitations.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2020]

Referring to the PA narrative regarding the so-called ”return of the refugees,” official PA TV noted:

“This right passes as an inheritance from the grandparents to the children and grandchildren. We are always talking about the word ‘Palestine’ and the return to Palestine. Palestine – we are dreaming and living it as Palestine in its entirety, from the Upper Galilee (i.e., region in northern Israel) to Umm Al-Rashrash (i.e., the Palestinian Arabic name for Eilat), from Gaza to Jericho, with Jerusalem as its capital.”

[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, May 11, 2020]

The inalienable right that can never be realized

Having brainwashed all Palestinians – and in particular the Palestinian “refugees” - for over seven decades to believe that their refugee status is inalienable and they will eventually be allowed to settle in Israel, it is doubtful whether any Palestinian leader will ever be able to accept any offer for peace that does not accommodate and realize this narrative.

Indeed, in 2013 when Israel offered to allow Palestinian refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria to enter the PA-controlled territories, on condition they waived their refugee status, the offer was rejected by Abbas. According to Abbas, it was more reasonable that the Palestinian refugees potentially die in Syria, rather than give up their refugee status:

“[PA] Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina announced yesterday [Jan 21, 2013] that President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the condition set by Israel for the entry of Palestinian refugees from Syria into the territories of the State of Palestine.
Abu Rudeina said to AFP in a conversation from Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] where he is with the president in order to participate in the Arab Economic Summit: ‘President Abbas requested of the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon that Israel allow the Palestinians from Syria – victims of the violence taking place there – to enter the territories of the occupied State of Palestine.’ He added that ‘Israel agreed but set an impossible condition – that anyone who enters the territories of the occupied State of Palestine renounce his right of return, which President Mahmoud Abbas absolutely refuses.’
Abu Rudeina said: ‘The issue of the Palestinian refugees and their right of return is one of the issues in a permanent arrangement, and no one can make changes to it, as the international resolutions stipulate their return to their homeland and the homes from which they were expelled, especially [UN] resolution 194, which stipulates the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 22, 2013]

The PA ideology behind flooding Israel with millions of the descendants of the Palestinian refugees is very clear and plays an integral part in the PA deception to hide its true goals.

For the purposes of the international community, the PA pretends to support what has become known as the “Two State Solution”, which would see a sovereign Jewish state living side by side with a sovereign Palestinian state. But in reality, the PA’s only vision is the creation of a Palestinian state, free of Jews, that would exist alongside Israel flooded with the so-called Palestinian refugees. These refugees, according to the PA vision, would of course receive full Israeli citizenship and be able democratically to eradicate the Jewish state.

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