Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Olivier Bercault


The Palestinian refugee crisis is considered one of the oldest, largest, and most complicated refugee issues in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced as a result of the 1948 and 1967 wars between Israel and the Arab states. Before fleeing their homes, Palestinians were persecuted and intimidated by the Israeli army in 1947 and 1948, causing people to flee to different neighboring geographical areas such as the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The UNRWA, a UN-associated entity, was established and began operations on May 1, 1950 to support relief efforts benefiting the estimated 750,000 Palestinian refugees that were recognized by the international community in the Middle East. According to the UNRWA, that number has increased today to reach approximately 5 million Palestinian refugees. The vast majority of these refugees are not allowed to return to their pre-1948 hometowns. There was no resettlement or real rehabilitation in the places where they had sought refuge, except for limited resettlement efforts in Jordan. Therefore, the right of return to Palestinian refugees is one of the most important issues to be resolved in permanent peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. For 70 years, the Palestinian and Israeli sides have been trying to reach a solution to the predicament of Palestinian refugees who were displaced in 1948, and again after the 6 Days War in 1967, with no tangible success.Although the international community has affirmed the right of return for Palestinian refugees in multiple resolutions, continuous denial for any responsibility is the stance of past and current Israeli governments. While Palestinians demand the application of the right of return, the State of Israel denies any acceptance of responsibility due to several ideological, philosophical and security concerns. Thus, the issue of Palestine refugees remains unsolved to date, with no clear path for future solutions. This work is aimed to present the facts and earlier literature, followed by an analysis of the underlying reasons for Israel’s denial of the right of return, and ending with practical and feasible solutions for applying the right of return for the Palestinian refugees.