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Columbia University

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change


This study focuses on Palestinian identity in refugee camps and their international representation of rights by the PLO. The goal of this research is to understand how the meaning of the Right of Return has developed through generations of Palestinian refugees residing in camps, in contrast with the international community discourse presented by the PLO on this topic.

After almost two decades since the PLO’s leadership renewal, a gap is visible between Palestinian political representation and the sentiments of Palestinians on the ground. There are growing perceptions dissatisfaction with the current leadership, especially from the perspective of refugees. More often than not, refugees describe themselves as marginalized by both the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian leadership itself. Since the international community embodied by the United Nations has been the stage for most of the advocacy for Palestinian rights, it is key to understand how the PLO has presented the Palestinian struggle in fact representative of Palestinian sentiments towards their perceived rights. This study shows how the PLO’s strategy has shifted towards the two-state solution, sidelining the possibility of the implementation of the right of return, while Palestinian refugees still nurture the hope of return and the liberation of historic Palestine.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Political Science | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity