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Summary: "Palestinian Refugees in International Law” Book Launch Webinar

“Palestinian Refugees in International Law” Book launch Webinar

Written by Noor Allawi, Intern at the Issam Fares Institute’s communications office

In aim of discussing Francesca Albanese and Lex Takkenberg’s new edition “Palestinian Refugees in International Law,” the AUB Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) held a webinar on February 11.

 “Palestinian Refugees in International Law” offers a clear and comprehensive analysis of the Palestinian refugee crisis in reference to various areas of the international law. The book outlines the distinctive regime they live in, their status and right to protection during times of war and internal displacement, and their situation in fifty countries. Despite being foundational to both the experience of the Palestinian refugees and the resolution to their plight, international law is often sidelined in political discussions. 
Moderated by Rami Khouri, director of Global Engagement at AUB and distinguished fellow at IFI, the webinar hosted: Sari Hanafi, professor of sociology at AUB, chair of the Islamic studies program, and president of the International Sociological Association; Francesca P. Albanese, research affiliate for the study of international migration (ISIM) at Georgetown University and former visiting scholar at the IFI; and Lex Takkenberg, freelance lecturer, consultant at Project20s, and former chief officer of the UNRWA Ethics Office. 
Speakers tackled the Palestinian refugees’ issue, which remains one of the most protracted refugee crises post the Second World War. Numbering over six million in the Near East alone, Palestinian refugees’ status varies considerably according to the laws that govern the state or territory that hosts them, with UN assistance. 

Takkenberg addressed the unfounded political optimism that followed the Oslo Accords, which has failed in achieving any progress to resolve the Palestinian refugee crisis. Despite acknowledging the increase in the literature on the Palestinian refugee conditions especially in Lebanon and Egypt, Takkenberg mentioned that there remains a lack in applying a holistic analysis to the crisis.  
Albanese addressed the legal and moral elements regarding the legal status of Palestinian refugees. She stated that the International law is not sufficient to capture the complexity of the Palestinian refugee crisis. 

Takkenberg asserted the need for a legal framework to achieve reform, including the adoption of legal steps and UN resolutions. The legal framework also encourages UN initiatives to investigate the displacement of Palestinians and to suggest possible solutions that fall in line with the international refugee law based on previous refugee examples. Takkenberg also stressed on the need to address the crisis while accounting for refugees who left their land in 1948. 
Khouri praised the amount of depth in research and solutions presented by the book, which he deemed as “valuable” when it comes to understanding the Palestinian refugee crisis.  
Similarly, Hanafi referred to the book as a “bible”, due to the extensive knowledge and depth it presents.  He also considered the publication to be more than an international law book but rather a sociological one too.  
Discussions that followed the book presentation addressed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is a movement that boycotts Israel and its products due to their harsh policies against Palestinians. Takkenberg argued that the importance of the movement is increasing particularly because many European institutions such as banks, educational institutions, and others, have started merging with Israeli institutions due to pressure from other stakeholders. Furthermore, Hanafi applauded the BDS movement, for being extremely bothering to the Israeli state.

The significance of the study lies in its attempt to deeply explore the events that expelled Palestinians from their land during the Ottoman empire and until the present day. The study also employs intertemporal law doctrines, a step that is relatively new to this specific field. Finally, the study’s inclusive method conveys the most realistic image of Palestinian refugees around the world, given that in most cases and due to lack of documentation in national government systems the Palestinian refugee crisis remains statistically invisible.

(Re)watch the webinar, here​.

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