Negotiating Palestine Refugees - A Question of Legitimacy

May 2011 – Apr 2005

MA Thesis; Dept. of Political Science, University of Oslo.

With the Oslo Agreement, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation accepted the principle of a territorial compromise. But none of the parties have offered to make substantial concessions on the refugee question. Why has it been more difficult to make a compromise on the refugee issue than on the other issues at stake in the final status negotiations? The thesis attempts to shed light on that question by analysing the role of the Palestinian refugee issue in the Palestinian and Israeli national identities. The argument in this interpretative, qualitative case study is that both the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiators have a serious legitimacy problem when it comes to giving up their long-standing positions on the refugee issue. The negotiators – on either side – seem to be unable to offer concessions, without at the same time challenging some core national values of their own constituencies.

Supervisors: Nils Butenschøn, University of Oslo; Hilde Henriksen Waage, PRIO
The thesis was defended in April 2005.

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