The Palestinian People Will Never Give Up Their Right to Return

May 16, 2004

On May 15, Palestinians in the occupied territories, inside the borders of pre-1967 Israel, and throughout the diaspora came out in demonstrations and rallies to reaffirm their struggle for an independent state and their "right to return".

The Palestinians call May 15 "Nakba Day," marking the loss of their homeland 56 years ago as the result of imperialist-zionist aggression.

This year's actions take on special significance because of the recent declaration by U.S. President George Bush that the U.S. government -- in complete defiance of international law and its own commitment -- does not recognize the Palestinian people's right to return. Bush also officially endorsed Israel's annexation of parts of the West Bank and its building of the Apartheid Wall.

Over the last 56 years, the wars of aggression and systematic campaigns of terror organized by U.S. imperialism and Israeli zionism have forced more than 5 million Palestinians from 531 Palestinian cities and villages into exile. The great majority of these displaced and stateless Palestinians still live in refugee camps -- 640,000 in refugee camps in the West Bank, 820,000 in Gaza, and hundreds of thousands more in U.N. run camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

In 1948, the U.N. General Assembly passed resolution 194 which declares that Palestinian "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible. For more than 50 years, the U.S. and Israeli governments have not only blocked implementation of this resolution, they have forced more and more Palestinians into exile.

Today the area of Palestine, which originally comprised 27,000 square kilometers, has been reduced to less than 7,000 sq. km. Israel's recent measures, including its continuing settlement projects in the West Bank and Gaza, its apartheid wall and its continued aggression against the Palestinians aim at undermining the economic, political and social viability of any future Palestinian state.