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Poll says only 10% of refugees expect ´right of return´ (JERUSALEM POST) By LAMIA LAHOUD 08/17/03) Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1061017192762
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Only 10% of Palestinian refugees in camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan demand "right of return" to Israel, says a new poll. Expected solutions to the refugee problem depend more on socioeconomic conditions and age than political considerations, says the random survey, conducted in camps in those areas by the Palestinian Center for Policy Survey Research between January and June.
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Most refugees 67% have realized that returning to their former homes in Israel is an unrealistic dream and opt for other solutions.
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The younger generation is more willing than the older generation to make their home in a potential Palestinian state, or a third country, and accept compensation.
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Of the 10% that expects right of return, 23% are living in camps in Lebanon. Even in Lebanon, the younger refugees are less interested in returning to Israel than to a Palestinian state. Only 5% of those living in Jordan and 12% of refugees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are interested in returning to Israel. Lebanon has the highest number 17% of refugees above 52 years of age.
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Also, 39% of the refugees in Lebanon still have relatives in villages and towns inside Israel, compared to 24% of refugees in Jordan, and 21% in the West bank and the Gaza Strip. Refugees usually want to return to areas where they have relatives. In the camps, Palestinian refugees often live with people from the same villages and towns, and frequently marry people from the same areas.
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In 1989-90, Palestinian youngsters in Ein al-Heloueh and Mieh Mieh refugee camps in south Lebanon said that they hoped the first intifada would lead to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
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The economic situation of the refugees in Lebanon is generally worse than that of those in Jordan and the territories. They are unwelcome by their host country, and live in barbed wired camps. Thirty-six percent of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon´s camps belong to the low-income group, followed by 32% in the territories and 17% in Jordan.
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Seventy-four percent of refugees in Lebanon have no nationality, and only carry Lebanese travel documents, while 97% of the refugees in Jordan hold Jordanian citizenship. In the West Bank and Gaza, 15% hold Jordanian citizenship, 42% have Palestinian passports, and 6% carry Egyptian travel documents.
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Only 1% of Lebanon´s refugees own land, compared to 11% in Jordan and 17% in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That could explain why 33% of refugees in Jordan want to stay in their host country; most refugees in the territories want to be citizen of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, while only 11% of the refugees in Lebanon want to settle in Lebanon.
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Overall, 31% of the refugees would prefer to make their new lives in a potential Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority has proposed to bring first of all refugees from Lebanon to a Palestinian state as part of a final peace deal, because of their living conditions. But the Lebanese refugees are the least eager to return to a Palestinian state. Only 19% chose that option, compared to 27% in Jordan and 38% of refugees in the territories.
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However, 21% of refugees in Lebanon said they would agree to receive compensation and Palestinian citizenship and settle in Israeli territory, which would later be handed to the Palestinians as part of a land swap. Only 10% of those living in Jordan would agree to that option, but 37% of those in the territories thought it was a possibility.
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The poll has a 3% margin of error. (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 08/17/03)
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