From: Ismail Zayid
To: Globe & Mail

Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 7:05 PM

Subject:Palestinian Refugees’ Right of Return : An Alienable Right.


Canada Palestine Association
POBox 1085
Halifax, NS, B3J 2X1
Tel: 902 429 9100

The Editor
The Globe & Mail

Jan. 17, 2001

Dear Editor,

Re: Article by Professor Ruth Lapidoth {"We’ll never see eye to eye" Jan. 16}

Zionist re-writing of the history of the Palestine/Israel conflict has become a standard practice, but re-writing international law is obviously now in fashion. Numerous authorities of international law, including W.T. Mallison and S.V. Mallison, Professors of International Law at the George Washington University, Washington DC., state clearly that scores of UN resolutions and international covenants, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirm the inalienable individual right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. The preamble to UN resolution # 2535 states: " Recognising that the problem of the Palestinian refugees has arisen from the denial of their inalienable rights under the Charter of the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights....". Interestingly, Ms. Lapidoth prevaricates about UN resolution #194, of 11 Dec. 1948,stating "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date [emphasis added by Lapidoth]" Contrary to her interpretation, "should be permitted", indicates adequate emphasis, in the English language. As to the Palestinian refugees, wishing to return to their homes, they do accept the qualification to "live at peace with their neighbours" .

In her reference to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, she states correctly that the Covenant,as with UN resolutions, "was intended to apply to individuals asserting an individual right". That is exactly what the Palestinian refugees are asking, that they should individually make that free choice. Surprisingly, she says that the UN resolution #194 is not applicable because it was "rejected by the Arab states because they opposed any peaceful settlement with Israel". Where does resolution #194 state that it is conditional on Arab states making peace with Israel? We also agreed that this right of return is an individual right and thus is not dependent on what Arab states or Israel say or negotiate. Prof. Lapidoth also refers to agreements Israel made with Egypt, Jordan and Arafat. Emphatically, none of these authorities have any right to negotiate away the right of every individual refugee to choose to return to his home. Strangely, she states that " Resolution 194 does not prescribe any particular solution nor dictate any particular time frame for carrying out its recommended returns". Do we understand that 52 years are not enough for the resolution’s requirement of return " at the earliest practicable date"? UN resolution #2452A calls on the Secretary General to follow and report upon "the effective implementation of the resolution" [emphasis added].

Lapidoth brings in the issue of "Jewish refugees from Arab countries". If they are true refugees, then they have a clear right to return to their homes, and a number of Arab countries declared their welcome for the return of their Jewish former citizens. However, there is clear evidence that many of them were terrorised by Israeli agents in Israel’s attempt to bring in reluctant immigrants. The account of Mordechai Ben Porat’s responsibility for a number of deaths when he tossed hand grenades into the crowded Masouda Shem-Tov synagogue in Baghdad is one example that is known in Israel.

To sum up, the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees entitles them individually to make that free choice. This right cannot be dismissed by manipulations of lawyers or any political leaders, be they American, Arab or Israeli.

Yours sincerely

Ismail Zayid, MD
President, Canada Palestine Association