The following statement was distributed today to several Arab newspapers:

Statement by the Right of Return Defence Committees
9 February 2002

We, the Palestinians undersigned below, at home and in exile, affirm once
more that the Right of Return is an Inalienable Right, has no statute of
limitation and does not permit concessions or delegation by others.  It is a
basic Human Right as affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
regional Conventions and UN resolutions especially the oft-repeated UN
resolution 194.  It is also derived from the sanctity of private ownership
which is not extinguished by occupation or sovereignty.

We also confirm that the Right of Return is not conditional upon the
demography of Israel nor subordinate to Israel's racist policies including
Apartheid, as this would mean the legitimization of the ethnic cleansing
against the Palestinians which started in al Nakba of 1948 and continues
ever since.  It is ironic that the right of man to return to his home is
made subordinate to the occupier desire to receive new immigrants in it.

It is well-established that Israel, using the euphemism of Israel's Jewish
character, aims to retain the largely empty Palestinian land as a reservoir
for future immigrants while imposing Apartheid system upon the Palestinians
and denying the refugees' right to return home.  It is also well-established
that 80% of Israeli Jews live on 15% of Israel's area, leaving only 2% of
Jews, other than Palestinian cities dwellers, control all the refugees land.

Therefore,

We absolutely reject any suggestion of bartering our Right of Return by any
kind of political deal, however packaged, and we refuse to surrender this
Right under any pretext.

We call upon President Arafat, who is the head of our national institutions,
to stand firm against the tremendous pressure exerted on him and, in the
interest of our national unity to remain committed, fully and without
reservation, to our Right of Return, as the Palestinian people have done for
over half a century.

Current Co-Signatories:

The Sponsoring Committee for the Declaration of the Right of Return (RoR)
(international), The Higher Committee for the Defence of RoR (Jordan),
Palestinian Return Centre (UK), RoR Defence Committee (Syria), 194 Group
(Damascus), Aidun (Syria), Aidun (Lebanon), The Palestine Right of Return
Coalition - Al Awda (USA and Canada), RoR Committee (Denmark), Society of
Palestinian Community (Sweden), The Initiative Committee for the Defence of
RoR, Fawwar Camp, Hebron, The Refugees Popular Committee in Jabalya Camp,
The Refugees Popular Committee in Al Shati Camp, The Refugees Popular
Committee in Nuseirat Camp, Duhaisha Camp Youth Social Centre, Youth Centre
for the Right of Return, Beit Sahour, The Higher National Committee for the
Return of the Refugees (Sana'oud), Nablus.