Palestinian refugees’ long-fought struggle for legal protection, return and restitution relates to a broader political struggle for individual and collective recognition as key civic stakeholders in the context of the Palestinian people’s long-fought struggle for self-determination. This paper briefly sketches the turbulent history that has resulted in the single largest group of forcibly displaced persons in the world. Palestinians as a whole have been de-nationalised through policies of the government of Irsael, which has had particularly disastrous consequences for those left without a home and livelihood and forced to live in a squalid refugee camp. Through a legal-historical analysis, this paper explores the resulting ‘protection gap’. It then discusses recent developments in international refugee law and forced migration discourses that provide new legal protection possibilities for Palestinian refugees. The paper concludes with a number of different propositions, arguing that invoking international law obligations, in particular human rights and involving Palestinian refugees as key civil society stakeholders, play both a key role in their legal protection and in offering greater prospects for a peaceful negotiations process.

ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Handmaker, J. (2011). Beyond Exclusion: Assessing Palestinian Refugees’ Struggle for Protection and Recognition and their Potential Contribution to a Peace Settlement. In ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development. Retrieved from