Palestinian 'Right of Return' Is Not 'Inalienable'

On September 14, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas lamented the lack of recent progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, stating, "I cannot say that there has been an agreement on a single issue. The gap between the sides is very large. We presented our ideas and demands regarding the six issues, and have yet to receive any answer from the Israeli side."

Abbas accuses the Israelis of stalling on the issue of the so-called "right of return." He believes that the 800,000 Palestinians displaced during aggressive Arab wars against Israel have a "right" to return to their homes.

Abbas' unrealistic demand for a "right of return" may represent the single greatest obstacle to Middle East peace. The demand is both unrealistic and antithetical to peace.

The term "refugee," by definition, is a temporary condition. When one is displaced, one becomes a refugee. But when one resettles, that condition no longer applies.

Moreover, there is no such thing as a third-generation refugee. How can it be that there are an estimated five million "refugees" today, particularly when the number of refugees after the 1967 war, the last time Palestinians were displaced, was less than one million?