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The Arab International Congress For The Right Of Return

Conferences Palace, Damascus,

The Damascus International Declaration In Defence Of The Palestinian Right Of Return

23-24 November 2008

We the participants in the Arab International Congress for the Right of Return which was hosted by the Arab Syrian cap ital, Damascus, during the period 23rd – 24th November 2008 with the attendance of more than 5,000 delegates from organizations, associations, political parties, popular unions and syndicates for the right of return representing Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and international personalities of all persuasions as well as Palestinian communities from all parts of the world and which demonstrated an undertaking of historic solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for their legitimate and inalienable rights.

And in support of the Palestinian right of return and vowing to continue defending and supporting their efforts to realize it we declare the following:

1. The right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands from which they were expelled with compensation for the losses that they have incurred lies at the centre and heart of the Palestinian issue. It is a deeply-rooted and inalienable right that cannot be compromised, bargained or diminished.

2. The right of return is a legitimate and natural right, individual and collective, guaranteed by religions, conventions and international laws. It is a permanent right that cannot be annulled by time. It is also an absolute right. No party individual or collective, unofficial or official, possess the right to concede this right, likewise it is unacceptable to hold referenda about it.

3. The Congress reaffirms the need to popularize the culture of resistance and its practice as the option of resistance is the best and shortest way to realize the return of the refugees to their homes. It calls for the safeguarding of this option and its fortification on the national, patriotic, Islamic and international fronts.

4. The adherence to the right of return is among the priorities of the Palestinian national liberation struggle and the Arab, Islamic and international liberation project. The undertaking by the free peoples of the ummah and the world to defend this right is a humanitarian and civilizational duty.

5. We support the Palestinian people in reaffirming their permanent allegiance to their land and country, civilizational legacy and Arab and Islamic identity. The Congress also reaffirms its commitment to their unity in Palestine and abroad as it is a prerequisite to protect their just rights which cannot be disregarded, bargained, divided or deferred.

6. The expulsion of the Palestinian people was conducted by the Zionist forces through adopted terrorist methods, murder and massacres which were effectively a crime ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The international powers which aided and provided all forms of assistance to the Zionist project also bear responsibility.

7. Any initiative which diminishes the right of the refugees to return are condemned and rejected whether it involves compensation, resettlement, naturalization or an alternative home regardless of the personalities, agencies or organizations that stand behind these initiatives.

8. We call upon the United Nations (UN) to expedite the right of return without further delay. The continued suffering of the refugees is a blatant indictment of the international system, evidence of its tyranny and its dependence on the law of the jungle.

9. The UN must assume responsibility to enable the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refuges in the Near East (UNRWA) to continue its duty in all theatres of its operation.

10. The actions of the Zionists aimed at expelling more Palestinians are dangerous criminal actions which must be resisted. It is also mandatory to resist all ‘population exchange’ and ‘transfer’ initiatives and settlements and the racist wall which aim to change the demographic and geographic identity of Palestine.

11. It is the right of the Palestinian refugees to enjoy civil, economic and social rights in all places of refuge until they are repatriated. It is the duty of the Arab states in which they reside to guarantee these rights and remove all forms of oppression and suffering.

12. We regard the what is called the ‘Jewish state’ a pretext to complete the expulsion of the Palestinians who live in the part of their land occupied and in 1948 and an attempt to annul the right of return and entrench the ‘Jewish Law of Return’ which is clearly a legitimization of this symbol of racism in Palestine and endorsement of the settlement project at the expense of the Palestinian people and their identity.

13. The Congress commends the steadfastness of the Palestinian people inside and abroad as well as their resistance and sacrifices throughout the years and generations - men, women, elders and children, liberated and prisoners in the face of expulsion and settlement campaigns.

14. All the institutions and organizations and agencies that defend the right of return are called upon to coordinate their efforts and contribute to the mobilization of Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, Christian and humanitarian resources and power, regionally and internationally, in order to realize a global consensus to implement the right of return and defeat any attempt to abrogate or conspire against it.

15. We call for the activation of political, legal, economic, media and educational instruments and methods to defend the right of return and disseminate its culture and entrench it in the souls of generations, especially the young and upcoming.

16. Sixty years have passed since the rape of Palestine without the realization of the return of the Palestinians to their homes and lands, the UN is therefore obliged to revoke the membership of the Zionist entity and expel it for the international system since the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees constituted a precondition for its admission.

We proclaim this Covenant which is not subject to alteration or exchange in honour of our obligation to the right of return and in defence of it and our duty to transmit it to future generations until the Palestinian people regain their right and return to their homes and country

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