“The right of return” to their homeland is a “core pillar in the establishment of a future independent Palestinian state,” a London panel concluded on Sunday.
“Without that right being guaranteed, there can be no progress in the talks of a two state solution,” Dr Ghada Karmi, a leading Palestinian activist, academic and writer said.
Karmi’s comments came at a conference organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), an activist group, to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment in 1948 — an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or “the Catastrophe”.
Among the many issues discussed was the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee their homeland in the aftermath of the creation of the state of Israel.
“I think talking about the right of return has never been more timely and over the past few months the discourse surrounding the right of return has become increasingly heated and toxic,” said Tareq Baconi, an analyst from Al-Shakba: The Palestinian Policy Network.
Baconi underlined the necessity to keep the conversation alive.
“It is important to bring up that conversation over and over again,” he said.
Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, co-founder of De-Colonizer and Zochrot, an NGO working to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba, said: “Israelis fear being driven out by the Palestinians returning from exile.”
He said this is why Israel opposes the right of return.
“We are obliged to do everything in our power, here in the U.K., to inform public opinion and to work to change government policy,” said Hugh Lanning, chair of the PSC.
Kamel Hawwash, vice-chair of the PSC, moderated the conference.
At least 65 Palestinians were martyred by Israeli gunfire during protests in eastern Gaza on May 14. Thousands more were injured.
The demonstration coincided with the Nakba, and relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Since the Gaza rallies began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinian demonstrators have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire.