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Corbyn’s Call for Palestinian Return to Israel

While on a recent visit to Jordan Jeremy Corbyn called for the implementation of the “Palestinian right to return”.

Labour Friends of Israel complained about the inference of this statement and Joan Ryan MP called on Corbyn to “urgently clarify” his remarks. The incident made it into Politics Home and LFI tweeted out a copy of their letter to Corbyn

Politics Home quotes a Labour Party spokesman as saying:

“These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by UN Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948. How the right of return is implemented is a matter for the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

However this is not the case. UNGA Resolution 194 was a recommendation and is not legally binding. Its aim was to create a Conciliation Commission to facilitate peaceful relations and speaks of refugees in general – not Arab or Palestinian refugees – and could have applied to Jewish refugees too. It was also unanimously voted against by the existing Arab member-states (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria) and was only instrumentalised years later in a political fashion to advance the principle of “right of return.” The historian Efraim Karsh has written on this extensively.

The wording for UN Resolution 194 is:

The United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 194 (III), resolving that “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, 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 equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”