Event #988 Start of Ramallah Congress of Refugee Delegates Date: Thursday, 17 Mar 1949
On 17 March 1949, eight hundred delegates convened in Ramallah (The Ramallah Congress of Refugee Delegates) and discussed the terrible conditions of refugee life as well as political issues. The congress demanded the return of the refugees "without awaiting the ultimate settlement for the Palestine question" - that is, the country's political fate.
A high-ranking delegation representing the congress was sent to the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC). Their presentation and demands were so impressive that the Arab governments and other refugee committees had no alternative but to meet with them to co-ordinate presentations before the Arab League, the PCC, and other UN agencies.
The delegation of the Ramallah congress insisted on the right of the refugees to return to their homes, and argued that that was the only way to guarantee peace and security in Palestine and in the Middle East. The delegation also expressed its readiness to discuss directly with Israel the question of return, compensation, and peace in Palestine. It explained to the PCC the harm and danger that would result from dispossession, neglect, and denial of the rights of the refugees, and from the perpetuation of their life in exile:
“There is no human force that could stop the personal revenge of individual refugees against the party that sentenced them to death. It is inconceivable that the refugees should be left to die with their children in caves and deserts in Arab lands, while watching European families of various extraction living by force in the homes that they had built with their own sweat and blood, enjoying a peaceful life. Nothing could prevent these refugees from infiltrating, as individuals, and blowing up those houses over their own heads and the heads of those now living in them.” (For more details, see Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Reality. New York: 1987, pp. 218 - 220)
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