In this paper, I first argue that, since the British mandate, citizenship regulations in Palestine contributed to dispossession of the rights of Palestinians, thus laying the seeds of the Palestinian refugee problem and its eventual consolidation. I then argue that citizenship regulations in host countries were exclusionary towards refugees in general, and Palestinians in particular, making it impossible for Palestinians to integrate in host societies. The so-called “Arab Spring” did not bring about any change in that sense. Finally, I argue that the narrative of statehood, although often separated from that of the “right of return”, constitutes but one narrative, and one from a completely different angle than the narrative of a “right of return”, where the ‘just solution’ creates the possibility of establishing a homeland for Palestinians where they, and in particular the stateless refugees, can be converted into full citizens. What was part of the problem for refugees is presented as part of the solution. This discussion is very important in today’s Palestine, which was just recently accepted by the un General Assembly as a non-member observer state. The importance of that move is the official Palestinian insistence on the need for a state on the 1967 borders, and the willingness to accept the formula of a two-state solution. Discussion related to citizenship and refugee status, and the right of return, are all back at the center of political and legal discussions.
Abbas Shiblak“Stateless Palestinians,”Forced Migration Review23 (2006): 8–9. As pointed out by Dugard and Reynolds “Israel denies Palestinian refugees now living in the [occupied Palestinian territory] who fled their homes inside the Green Line the right of return reside and obtain citizenship in the successor state (Israel) now governing the land of their birth” (John Dugard and John Reynolds “Apartheid International Law and the Occupied Palestinian Territory” European Journal of International Law 24 no.3 (2013): 896. In that same direction Nagan and Haddad assert “What makes a final settlement complex is that there are now some 6.3 million (absentee) Palestinians whose citizenship rights were abrogated by internal Israeli legislative and administrative measures” (Winston P Nagan and Aitza M Haddad “The Legal and Policy Implications of the Possibility of Palestinian Statehood” U.C. Davis Journal of International Law and Policy 18 no.2 (2012): 372.