From a Reuters report today:
The Palestinians backing the [Geneva] document agreed to waive the claims of millions of their people to return to lands in Israel from which they fled into over [sic] five decades of refugee exile during and after the 1948 Middle East war.
If one is able to make some sense of this mangled sentence, Reuters is claiming that the Palestinian “right of return” concerns the “claims of millions…to return to lands in Israel from which they fled.”
This is an entirely inaccurate presentation of the matter. No party has ever claimed that millions of Arabs fled Israel during its War of Independence (or in the decades after). The actual number of Arab refugees in 1949 was, according to Israeli sources, 538,000. The UN puts the figure at 720,000, while Palestinians have claimed up to 850,000.
The 4 million figure has been used by Palestinians and the UN to approximate the number of refugees and their descendants since 1949. This includes about 1.5 million Palestinians who have been absorbed into Jordanian society, and has only been used to calculate those who may now qualify for some form of UN aid.
Reuters’ error follows a similar one on this very matter by the Associated Press in May. Click here to see the HonestReporting critique of that AP error, and an overview of the “right of return.”
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