A Negative Balance of Return

The document provides evidence of an effort to solve the refugee problem "from the bottom up" and disarm the landmine of the right of return by means of a variety of practical proposals for the refugees.

The parties tried to solve the principle of the right of return by drafting a mutually acceptable joint narrative that would indicate the factors responsible for the creation of the problem - of which Israel would presumably be one. The number of refugees mentioned in the context of a return to Israel (25,000 to 40,000) is several times smaller than the number of residents of East Jerusalem who would go from being Israeli residents to being Palestinian citizens (some 200,000).

Progress has also been made on the issue of the refugees and the right of return in the discussions the parties have been holding via informal channels. Inter alia, there has been progress on a clear recognition of Israel's natural right to veto requests for entry by individual Palestinian refugees, as well as on how to calculate the compensation to be paid the refugees.