Return Migration A Socio-cultural and Socio-economic Approaches.rtf

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This was presented at the Stocktaking Conference on Palestinian Refugee Research in
Ottawa, Canada, June 17-20, 2003

         The impact of Social Capital on the Eventual Repatriation Process of Refugees

       Study of Economic and Social Transnational Kinship Networks in the Palestinian
                                   Territories and Israel

                                                                 Preliminary results

Unachieved Draft: not to be cited without permission of the Author1

Sari Hanafi

I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................ 2
Assumption .............................................................................................................................................. 5
  Economic action and its embeddedness in the social structure ............................................................ 5
  Family ties ........................................................................................................................................... 6

II-1. Economic Factors ........................................................................................................................... 7
   Nature of the investment and its volume.............................................................................................. 8
   Transnational Familial Entrepreneurship ........................................................................................... 10
   Motivation of the Investment in the "Homeland": Between Homo Economicus and Homo Patriotus13

II-2. Social capital: density of social kinship ties ............................................................................... 13

II-3. The Camp Life .............................................................................................................................. 15

III. CONCLUSION ........................................................................................ 17

Scenarios of volume of return .............................................................................................................. 18

Profile of returnees ............................................................................................................................... 20

Patterns of Return: Challenging the classical model of Nation-State .............................................. 21

BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................................................................... 23

 - Sari Hanafi is the director of Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, Shaml, however this work reflects only
his vision. The first draft was presented and discussed to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

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The experience of the repatriation of refugees in many places in the world shows that there are
very few aid packages from the governmental or international organization funds for the
process of repatriation. Social capital seems to play a major role to support the returnees,
especially in the beginning of their installation.

The objective of the paper is to exam the social capital from which the eventual Palestinian
returnees might benefit in the case of a solution for the Palestinian refugees. This will be
treated through an analysis of the economic and social transnational kinship networks. Two
surveys will be invest: one produced by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
(PSR) which conducted between 16 January 2003 targeting 1498 Palestinian refugee
households distributed between 150 locality in West Bank and Gaza Strip. The second survey
is more anthropologic with open questionnaire conducted by Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee
Center, Shaml since January 2003 targeting 800 not only the refugees but the population in
Palestinian Territories and Israel.

This study has two assumptions. First, if we believe that there are different levels of social
structures in which the individual—the subject of (return) migration intention—is inserted (eg.
friendship, extended family village ties, national ties), we may consider the nuclear family as
playing a major role in the migration decision, and in the system of support for the future
refugees‘ absorption. The second assumption concerns the examination of entrepreneurship.
We consider, after Polany and Granovetter, that economic action is embedded in the social
structure, for which reason it is very important to study social networks. Thus the paper will
deal with the modes of entrepreneurship of the current returnees, whether familial
entrepreneurship or individualistic, and how the return movement or the intensification of
transnational movement will play a role in the Palestinian economic structure in the Palestinian


While the phenomenon of international migration is often studied from the perspective of
economic push and pull theory, it is imperative that researchers begin to acknowledge the
complexity of this phenomenon and to place it also in its proper social, cultural, political and
economic contexts. Currently, three relevant phenomena characterizing international
migration: the first, , entails the intense circulation of capital, goods and services (economic
globalization), the second, etatized political systems operates in parallel and paradox, creating
non-porous borders and impeding individual mobility while the third comprises the virtual
nature of some of the global movement manifested through new means of communication and
new media technology such as the Internet and e-mail. These processes have intensified the
creation of new social and economic networks and have changed patterns of immigration and
return migration.

                                                                                 10/10/2011    2

In the Middle East, the Gulf War, the Madrid peace conference in 1991, and the Oslo Accords
in 1993, represented ruptures in the evolution of regional configurations. In the Palestinian
context, the issue of the ―right of return‖ for refugees whether to the village of origin
(pre-1948) or to the Palestinian political entity, has been one of the thorniest issues in
negotiations with the various Israeli governments over the past decade.

The experience of the repatriation of refugees in many places in the world shows that there are
very few aid packages from the governmental or international organization funds for the
process of repatriation. Social capital seems to play a major role to support the returnees,
especially in the beginning of their installation.

The objective of the paper is to exam the social capital from which the eventual Palestinian
returnees might benefit in the case of a solution for the Palestinian refugees. This will be
treated through an analysis of the economic and social transnational kinship networks. Two
surveys will be invest: one produced by The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
(PSR) which conducted between 16 January 2003 targeting 1498 Palestinian refugee
households distributed between 150 locality in West Bank and Gaza Strip. The second survey
is more anthropologic with open questionnaire conducted by Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee
Center, Shaml since January 2003 targeting 800 not only the refugees but the population in
Palestinian Territories and Israel.

Thus this paper has as objective the identification of the patterns of return and transnationalism,
and the highlighting of the social and economic kinship between the Palestinians inside and
outside the Palestinian territories as well as the mode of entrepreneurship in the Palestinian
Territories. Otherwise contrary to the study of the absorption which focuses only about the
contribution of the State and the international community in providing prepare the terrain for
the return, we are more interested to deal with the social capital and the many sociological
factors which could encourage the return or the recycling in the new economic environment. It
will focus on the objective issues which influence the decision for return migration, such as
economic and social kinship networks, entrepreneurship and migration culture, as opposed to
emotionally-based attitudes, which express the subject‘s political position but not necessarily
their actual intention to the return. Although the emotionally-based attitudes were taken into
consideration in the paper, they were not weighted unduly in the analysis due to their weak
analysis capacity.

What pattern of return will be realized, and by what profiles of returnee? Will there be a literal
mass of refugees rushing in simultaneously, or a trickle of fragmented groups? What is the
motivation for the return: pure nationalism and the desire to stabilize identity(ies) after the
experience of exile, or something extending beyond that? In case of the realization of the right
of return, would it be voluntary or enforced? What constitutes return ‗in safety and dignity‘?
Should refugees be required to return if they cannot go back to their areas of origin, but would
have to settle in another part of the country? These are some of the questions that this study will
attempt to address.

This study adopts two approaches. First, the development approach concerns all the returnees
who choose to come home (or to the Palestinian political entity) by supporting themselves
financially, either independently or through the help of the extended family, and with little
intervention from the public authority (indirect absorption). The potential category includes
Palestinian refugees who come within the framework of family reunification, as well as
refugees and displaced persons, those who are able to integrate easily due to their

                                                                                   10/10/2011    3

socio-economic profile , and finally those coming home as economic migrants. The second
approach is what I have called the democratic approach. This concerns the study of the
refugees who come home with an economic and social plan of absorption, whether refugees
from refugee camps or from cities and wealthy countries like the Gulf Monarchies. In both
approaches the return includes those who are legally refugees with fragile status (having only
travel documents), diasporic refugees (having passports of one of the host countries), as well as
economic migrants.

Before dealing with the factors which influence the decision for return or the absorption
process, we will shed some light on the ‗returnees‘ to the Palestinian Territories during the
transition period of Oslo.

To date, Palestinian return to the West Bank and Gaza has taken the form of a collective influx
rather than an organized or planned individual return. This phenomenon is broadly observed
across two distinct periods. The first, a forced movement, was provoked by the outbreak of the
Gulf War and entailed the migration of some 350,000 Palestinians from Kuwait and other Gulf
countries (Hanafi, 1997; ESCWA). Only some 37,000 of this number, who had preserved their
rights as permanent residents in West Bank and Gaza, returned to the territories (Isotalo, 2001).
The second period followed the launch of the peace process in the region and involved a return
migration from Arab countries; Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia in particular. Palestinians with a
precarious legal status in those countries or those who were beneficiaries of a quota agreed
upon between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) made up the major return
groups in the latter period. 2 Individual return cases from countries of the diaspora were also
observed, but were largely an issue of little interest. These migrants, belonging to different
socio-professional categories, were often qualified university graduates possessing technical
skills acquired in host countries (Zureik, 1997; Amer 1994).

Although there are no reliable estimates of the number of actual returnees currently residing in
the Palestinian territories, there are some indicators. According to the 1997 PCBS census, the
total number of returnees was estimated at some 267,355, constituting 10.5% of the total
population at that time (Malki and Shalabi, 2000). Interviews with representatives of DORA
indicate that at least 200,000 out of this figure may have returned since the beginning of the
Oslo Process in 1993. The return of Palestinians has been subject not only to push factors from
the host country, but also a collective desire for return on the part of the refugees (Sayigh,
1977). Warner (1994: 160), however, disputes the latter interpretation, challenging the
―idealized‖ and ―nostalgic‖ image of voluntary repatriation. Over time, he argues, dispersal
distorts the meaning of community and with it memory of the homeland (Zureik, 1997: 80).
Many specialists in forced migration studies criticize the UNHCR trend to favor repatriation
and to force the refugees to go home.3

Notably, any discourse concerning Palestinian return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip
incorporates its share of paradox. ―Returning‖ Palestinians whose reference of origin was in
the territories which became Israel in 1948 have not realized a return to their native villages or
cities; in this case ―return‖ has signified a new migration. Furthermore, the ―return movement‖
remains an ephemeral one, as Israel still controls immigration to the Palestinian Territories and
does not generally grant residency to returnees; those returnees, who generally possess a
  - Some of this group has been admitted to the country in accordance with family reunification or a temporary
visitor visa. The latter have remained in the Palestinian territories despite their irregular status according to Israeli
   Interview with Barbara Harell-Bond and Fabienne De Horoleau in Cairo April 2003.

                                                                                                     10/10/2011        4

foreign passport, are considered tourists and are given three-month visas by air and often only
one month when traveling across land borders. Even when such returnees are employed in
Palestinian areas, the possibility of acquiring a work permit or residency remains minimal and
they must repeatedly exit and re-enter the country before the expiration of their visa in order to
obtain a new one. Those who overstay their visa run the risk of being permanently barred entry
into Israel and, consequently the Palestinian Territories.

These above distinctions regarding the location of return are important not least because they
will have an impact on the character of any eventual Palestinian state. As Roger Heacock
noted, if the return is to a ―remembered‖ land (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and not to the
historical one (pre-1948 Palestine), then it is not a returnee state, but a settler state. The case of
Bosnia-Herzegovina demonstrates that a state which is based on lived experience (and thus on
history) is not necessarily a successful one, while Israel, with its half-century of existence
based on a discontiguous memory and reconstructed history, has undoubtedly been a
successful case of settler state-building (1999: 57).

 The methodology to be used is the network analysis. Such perspective will rely on studies that
will consider a wide spectrum of factors affecting the possibilities and potentialities of return,
including the role of kin networks, refugee dispersion patterns, pre- and post-return economic
and social profiles. Other factors include the individual desires of refugees to return to the (or
a) homeland, the likely manifestation and implementation of return (be it immediate or
prolonged, etc.).

Concerning the methodology, we will use quantitative and qualitative methodologies to
address the different elements of this research. (See the open questionnaire in the annex) While
the network analysis will based mainly upon the quantitative survey, many other elements will
benefit from both qualitative and quantitative result.


Economic action and its embeddedness in the social structure

Our first assumption that the economic action is embedded in the social structure; for this
reason it is very important to study the social networks. What is this embeddedness and how we
understand the economic behavior of Palestinian returnees and local entrepreneurs in the case
of return movement or intensification of transnational movement?

To understand a type of economic behavior as exemplified by Palestinian entrepreneurs one
has to take into consideration the new literature on economic sociology, especially Polanyi's
and Granovetter's concepts of embeddedness. The concept of embeddedness refers to the fact
that economic transactions of the most diverse sorts are inserted in overarching social and
political structures that affect their outcomes. For that reason we will not be able to understand
the Palestinian economic transaction without referring to the social and legal status of the
Palestinian communities. Some economists and sociologists have attempted in the past to
rescue the study of economic action from the exclusive sway of an individualistic perspective.
Schumpeter, in particular, saw economic sociology as a helpful corrective to the neoclassical
penchant for transformation of people into "mere clothes lines on which to hang propositions of
economic logic".

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In order to study the economic action there has been a shift in focus from enterprise to the
entrepreneur. Schumpeter was the first to apply such a new approach. His idea is that the
entrepreneur is mainly motivated by success without hedonistic purposes and always is in favor
of innovation and modernization which, in fact, disturb the stability of the economy. In
Schumpeter‘s eyes, the entrepreneur thoroughly calculates his/her projects without speculating
(1991: 411). However, Israel Kirzner criticizes this conservatism of Schumpeter's
entrepreneur, in his adoption of the theory of 'Human action', considering the risk one of the
most important factors for trade and industry in a world governed by the fluctuation of the
economy. Thus, according to Kirzner, the entrepreneur envisions the future more than s/he
submits to calculations of the present time (Kirzner, 1982: 148-140; Cassarino, 1997).

 In this respect, the Palestinian business (wo)man is not a homo economicus who seeks to
maximize profit by enlarging the market for his/her homeland, but a "human actor" who tries
to satisfy his/her needs by playing a role as a member of an ethnic network. However a human
actor does not mean an abstract pure patriotic actor who wants to "throw" capital into their
homeland. A human actor is first of all a person who calculates their economic investments in a
complex way, taking into account the future more than the present economically and looking
for social prestige and political power (both in the strict sense of the word, and in the wider
Foucauldian sense).

Family ties

The survey will try to understand the different levels of the social structures into which the
individual subject of intended (return) migration is inserted (friendship, extended family,
village ties, national ties). However, concerning the migration decision and the system of
support for the future absorption Palestinian refugees, we draw the following assumption: that
the nuclear family plays a major role. Therefore, one of the objectives of the questionnaire is to
identify the different types of family ties: strong, weak or torn.

II. Factors influencing the movement of the refugees

There are certainly many factors which influence the refugee decision for return, or for another
option, but here we will focus on some elements related mainly to the economic sociology of
the Palestinian refugees (and the Palestinians abroad in general) in the host country and in the
country of return (Palestinian Territories or Israel). The focus on these elements, however, does
not mean that they are the only the important ones. For instance, the geographical factor is
determinant also. Here I must highlight the importance of Abu Sitta's work in opening the
debate concerning geographic absorption in Israel. He demonstrates, after dividing Israel into
three demographic areas (A, B and C) that the majority of Israeli Jews—or 68% of the
population—is now concentrated in Area A, which makes up 8% of Israel. Area B is 6% of
Israel and has a largely mixed population including another 10% of Israeli Jews (2001). Abu
Sitta's seminal work has thus pointed out that the areas in and around the former Palestinian
villages remain empty and unused, and could readily absorb returning refugees. For him, this
empty rural area also corresponds to the peasant heritage of the Palestinian refugees. However,
55 years later are these refugees, the majority of whom dwell in metropolitan areas like
Damascus, Amman, Cairo, not to mention Chicago and New York, still to be considered
peasants? Moreover, according to PSR survey of 2003, the houses of around half originate

                                                                                  10/10/2011    6

from areas in 1948 Palestine were destroyed, and 40% of these declared themselves unwilling
to return if the family home no longer exists.

But the ability to absorb the refugees geographically should not be the only factor in
determining return scenarios. Irish-Americans did not return to Ireland following the end of
British colonialism, few Armenians returned to Armenia after its independence, and only a
small number of Lebanese returned to their country of origin following the end of the civil war.
In all these cases, there was not only ample capacity, but the political will for re-absorption.

Another important factor which demands attention, and yet remains out of the scope of this
study is the social welfare system in comparative perspective between the host countries and
the return areas. For instance, it seems that the Palestinian Territories have a very poor health,
social welfare and educational system. The Israeli one is much better, which will be favored by
the returning Palestinians from refugee camps. The Palestinian system is comparable to the
Jordanian one. A study on this issue is now being prepared by Rita Giacaman.

Finally, as the possibility of the return of the Palestinian refugees is still closely connected with
the right of return, the three scenarios elaborated in the conclusion are conditioned by the
degree to which this right is realised. It is worth mentioning here that many studies show a low
expectation for a fair political solution. According to a PSR survey of 2003, around half accept
the idea of postponing the refugee issue to the indefinite future, on the establishment of the
Palestinian state. The study of Najeh Jarrar which combined sociological and anthropological
methodology is very revealing in this respect. Although the refugees have shown their lack of
confidence in the peace process, at the same time a significant trend of readiness for finding a
realistic solution emerged through the refugees‘ attitudes. This appears in the in-depth
interview findings, as around one fourth of those refugees were ready to accept compensation
and nearly one half were ready to return under Israeli rule (Jarrar, 2003; see table 2).

II-1. Economic Factors

If some returnees will consume from the resources of the return place, others could bring
capital and expertise, sufficient to generate the country‘s economy. Some studies have
demonstrated that capital influx and investment accompanies the return of professionals,
thereby generating investment. This type of investment is significantly different from the
classical model of remittances studied in the Arab world (Hanafi 2000), which were
traditionally dominated by limited economic benefits and negative effects of migration; weak
investment of remittances in productive activities and inflation provoked by transfer of
currency (see Saad Al Din & Abdel Fadil, 1983; Fargany, 1988).

Contrary to some studies which present pessimistic models, viewing returnees as a future
burden on Palestinian society,4 and which studied the absorption capacity of Palestinian
refugees from a narrow and short-term economic perspective, other studies have shown great
potential benefit from the absorption of returnees, without considering the new dynamics and
positive externalities which might be established by their return (for instance see Van Hear,

 See as example of this study the European Union report which was commissioned in 1999, Prospects for
Absorption of Returning refugees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, produced by the Institute of International
Economic Relations (Charalambos and Huliaras, 1999).

                                                                                              10/10/2011      7

1996). The transition period of Oslo generated a high rate of growth in the Palestinian
Territories. The GDP and GNP were greater before the Intifada than in the neighboring
countries (with the exception of Israel). If this level comes back, the Palestinian Territories will
attract refugees at least from Jordan and Egypt, especially if the family members contribute in
the initial stage. The West Bank would, in that case, receive groups from Jordan, the Gaza Strip
and Egypt. This also applies to Israel, should the Israeli policy allow Palestinian workers,
engineers and IT professional to take up, or resume residence there.

In any case, the decision of migration movement, whether of individuals or capital, is subject to
a complex set of factors related to both host country and return country, but also to other
geographical areas, especially in the era of globalization. However, we refuse to make a
putatively straightforward relationship between transnationalism and global capitalism, as
advocated for instance by Basch et al. (1994: 22).5 What I will show here is that the potential
return of the refugees (especially the entrepreneurs and professionals) are more structurally
constrained than a model of pure economic choice geared to optimal benefit would indicate.
The recycling of de-territorialized Palestinian capital is revealing fault lines in the international
global market rather than the beneficial workings of globalization. For instance, the
geographical de-localization of Palestinian economic transactions can best be understood as
improving the fragile legal status of the refugees, regardless of their wealth. As such, most of
their investments reflect more an economy of survival rather than the exercise of real political
and economic power in the economy of globalization and the world system. As Grillo, Riccio
and Salih (2000: 19) argue ―[e]conomic dislocation in both developing and industrialized
nations has increased migration, but made it difficult for migrants to construct secure cultural,
social and economic bases within their new settings.‖ So transnationalism, whether in reaction
to global capitalism or preceding its triumph, as in the case of the Senegalese communities in
Italy, does not exhibit a straightforward relation to global capital (idem.). The experience of
Palestinians recruited through the UNDP‘s TOKTEN program illustrates that many of them
come to Palestine due to their precarious situation in their host country. Accordingly, their
return expresses a model in which a constrained people seek to improve their flexibility, rather
than one of people that have a straightforward choice between the country of residence and the
country of origin.

Three interconnected key points make the economic factors mostly in favor of the return of
Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian Territories and Israel rather than against it: the nature of
the investment and the motivations for it are more driven by non-economic factors more than
by economic ones, and the familial mode of entrepreneurship predominates in Palestinian
Territories and Israel.

Nature of the investment and its volume

With the transition period of Oslo, local and international economic links were re-established
after a long period of conflict. Already partially tied to their native community, the Palestinian
diaspora contributed to the reshaping and the emergence of new transnational economic
networks. However, the proportion of the investments of the Palestinian diaspora in the

    See the critique of Grillo, Riccio and Salih (2000: 19)

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Palestinian Territories to the volume of the Palestinian capital abroad is modest6, although it
was still a vital factor for the Palestinian economy. As an indicator of this, according to the
Palestinian economist Fadl Naqib (2003: 45) in the period 1993-1999 the average investment
growth was 12.3%.

To give an idea of the size of the diaspora's contribution during a ‗normal‘ time (ie. before the
Intifada), one of my previous studies (Hanafi, 1998b) showed that the diaspora's contribution
in investments and philanthropic activities can be valued at $408.006 million in 1996 (of which
74% was investments) and $410.211 million in 1997 (of which 76% was investments).7 This
contribution probably represents one of the main resources of Palestinian society. Indeed,
compared to the international help for the Palestinian Territories, it constituted 74% of this help
($549.414 million) in 1996, and 95% in 1997 ($432. 259 million) (MOPIC, 1998). (See table 1)
However this contribution remains insufficient for a young entity ravaged by 30 years of
de-development, according to the expression of Sara Roy (1995), and furthermore is
extensively below the capacity of the Palestinian diasporic business people. It is very important
to note that these investments did not come necessarily from wealthy people, but from
Palestinian middle classes, especially those located in the Gulf.

The impact of these contributions of the diaspora is not only quantitative but also qualitative.
The idea of a holding company allows the establishment of strategic and long-term investment
and heavy projects that are beyond the capacity of one person. It is a new model infused in a
country dominated by the family-based, small or medium firms. Infusing vitality into the
Palestinian economy at this early stage of its development is crucial to any future prospect of
stability and sustainable development. Vitality not only relieves the economic, social and
political tensions that are now a fact of daily life, it also initiates a catalytic process of capital
accumulation in a low-resource based economy that consumes a very high rate of imports.

The leader of such companies is PADICO which is founded by 140 prominent Palestinian
businessmen in the diaspora with a capital of US$500 million. One of its objectives is to help
channel new capital, either directly or through affiliated or subsidiary companies8, towards

  For example, my findings in the United Arab Emirates are quite significant here. Few Palestinian business
people have the strong conviction that they should leave the Emirates one day and return to Palestine, even though
the partial Right of return (family reunification) now exists, albeit to a rather limited extent. They decided instead
to express their feelings of nationalism by contributing to the construction of the Palestinian entity. However, such
an investment, made in a delicate economic and political situation, seems to indicate that the rationality is more
than merely economic: it concerns prestige and the acquisition of position. There are 34 economic projects that
have started since the launch of the Oslo process in 1993. From the 75 members of the sample selected for the
survey, more than a third invested in the Territories. This number is considerable, taking into consideration the
attitude of the Palestinians in relation to the Palestinians-Americans. It seems, in any case, that there is a
correlation between proximity and investments. The type of investment is also related to the origin of the
Palestinians. Indeed, those of 1948 territories origin (8 business people in the sample) were stakeholders in many
holding companies, such as PADICO and International Salaam Company, since they do not have physical access
to the Palestinian Territories. The Palestinians of West Bank and Gaza origins behave differently. They associate
a relative or a friend in their projects in locus after paying a visit to these territories. Table 3 shows the chosen
sectors. For further analysis on the Palestinian diasporic economy, see Hanafi (1998a and 2001b).
  The Palestinian economy and economic development are now so uneven that generalizations based on central
data are extremely hazardous. Starting at the bottom, tracing investments from the host countries into the
homeland, 600 interviews with Palestinian business people (mainly from Jordan, the UAE, Egypt, Syria, Israel,
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the US, Canada, Chile, the UK and Australia) were conducted during 1995-1997. But at
the same time a strategy of working upwards and outwards was carried out from the Diaspora and from the
Palestinian Territories.
  PADICO has bridged the gap between local and Diaspora Palestinians by establishing subsidiaries in which
home investors can participate even with small amounts.

                                                                                                   10/10/2011       9

projects that can create jobs while providing competitive financial returns to investors; in short,
to attract and use investment to help rebuild the economic infrastructure in the Palestinian

A collective mobilization of resources has also taken place. A number of stockholding
companies have been founded, chief among them the Arab Palestinian Investment company
(APIC), whose activities include the joint efforts of Palestinian business people from both sides
of the Green Line. The Arab Palestinian Financial Foundation (Beit Al-Mal Al-Arabi
Al-Falestini), the Palestine Bank for Investment, and the Arab Islamic Bank constitute other
examples. The impact of such societies has been limited when compared with that of PADICO.

However, the new pattern of big companies is not necessarily the best. Within developed
countries it is clear that some challengers to corporate hegemony have appeared. Small
businesses, in decline, and universally stereotyped as dependent, backward and low-skilled
until the 1970s, have begun to increase in number again. Some of these, at least, have been
highly successful and innovative self-starters, using and developing the latest technology and
designing for the newest markets. Silicon Valley and Third Italy have become a model to
imitate, denoting mutually supportive communities of such firms. Few, however, have thought
of these small firms as actual or potential actors on a global stage or as nascent rivals to the
international operations of the multinationals (Lever- Tracy, Ip & Tracy, 1996).

Finally, the weakness of the involvement of the Palestinian diasporic economy in the
Palestinian economy can be attributed to the nature of the Palestinian niches, which is mainly
trade and the construction industry. These two niches do not constitute a value added to the
Palestinian local expertise. This makes for a separation between know-how and capital. Those
who have capital should team up with those who have expertise externally in order to start a
business in the Palestinian Territories or Israel. The creation of holding companies could
resolve this structural problem. In the transition period of Oslo many Palestinians from 1948
who cannot invest in the Palestinian Territories, as they do not have access or relationships,
invest through such companies.

Transnational Familial Entrepreneurship

The mode of entrepreneurship is a concept which allows us to understand the mode of
acquiring the capital and the know-how necessary for the launching, development and
sustainability of any business. Thus entrepreneurship does not mean a fixed behavior or a kind
of economic mentality, but rather it is a very dynamic concept.9 Entrepreneurship does not
concern only business people but entrepreneurs in general, in the sense that the ILO gives this
term, which includes the self-employed and the employer (ILO, 1998). In this meaning, the
Palestinians in the diaspora, refugees or not, are somewhat entrepreneurial. 20% of the labor
force participants are self-employed or employers 10 (Khawaja and Tiltes, 2002: 99). This
percentage becomes 15% in Palestinian Territories, according to PCBS (Al Rimmawi and
Bukhari, 2002: 54).

  More precisely we can define the entrepreneurship as ―an attempt at new business or new venture creation, such
as self-employment, a new business organization, or the expansion of an existing business, by an individual, a
tram of individuals, or an established business‖ (Reynolds, Hay and Camp, 1999).
   Here we use the ILO classification and the definition of the entrepreneur. (ILO, 1998)

                                                                                              10/10/2011 10

The fieldwork that I conducted about the modes of entrepreneurship in Palestinian Territories
and the diaspora indicates different types of Palestinian entrepreneurship, individualist in some
cases and communitarian in others. Those two modes of entrepreneurship have a common
ground on a transnational level. Business people diversify of their concerns in different fields
but also across many geographical areas, using mainly capital transfer and not physical

This diversification is not generally due to de-localization of business towards new markets or
new methods of production designed to benefit from the economic environment in the host
countries, but it is instead a strategy of diversifying economic activity in new geographical
areas and new sectors in order to insure the security of the capital in case one economic sector
in a country should encounter difficulties. The insecurity in Palestinian diaspora economic
activity can be perceived as stemming from a generalized anxiety in a population characterized
by a sort of permanent liminality, a psychology of transition and of impermanence.

The nature of sectoral diversification and choice of place of investment by Palestinian
entrepreneurs is not always dependent solely on the economic rationalism that characterizes
the nature of a global economics based on complex calculation of different factors related to the
size of markets, labor costs, technological performance and the presence of infrastructures to
facilitate investment. Palestinian economic diversification is dependent on the vagaries of
social and political criteria such as the impact of the Oslo peace process, the juridical status of
the investor in the host country and in the investment country, mobility, access and difficulties
in obtaining visas. As a result of such factors in the Gulf States, for example, Palestinians were
unable to covert and recycle their capitals brought during golden Gulf age when they migrated
to North America after the Gulf crisis at the end of 80s.

If the outcome of the peace process explains the Gulf capital flow towards Palestine and
Jordan, the subsequent flux towards Canada and the US demonstrates the inability of the
Middle-East to absorb investment and its difficulty in keeping pace with the process of
globalization of the economy. Since the 1980 inter-Arab migration trade and investment has
shrunk substantially when compared to general economic activity. Most economic activity and
patterns of capital ownership have been confined within Arab states. The trend prevails despite
exhibiting some hint of change after 1994.

The kinship networks between the Palestinian diaspora and its gravitational center have
assumed critical importance in diaspora economies, though the trend is not necessarily a
self-evident one. In the Gulf countries, political instability and limited conditions for
investment in the region have increased the value of economic kinship networks, while in other
countries of the Palestinian diaspora individualist entrepreneurship has assumed a greater role
(Hanafi, 2000). While ethnic and kinship networks are not specifically necessary for the
success of the investment and recycling of capital in the new receiving countries, the situation
in the Palestinian Territories may tend more towards entrepreneur-family than
entrepreneur-individual relationships, as will become apparent from my fieldwork. Many cases
show the importance of role models (ie. other successful entrepreneurs) in their social
networks, mainly the familial one. This is attested in much of the literature (Khawaja and
Tiltnes, 2002: 106-107; Timmons et al., 1990). Many family stories show that people engaged
in enterprise creation (micro or macro) have close relatives with business operations. The
experience of many families shows a typical transnational entrepreneur. Difficulties caused by
diaspora life with transnational strategies are insuring economic continuity throughout diverse

                                                                                   10/10/2011 11

In the context of my fieldwork, transnational networks are not the expression of global capital
but rather constitute strategies for survival. In many transnational experiences around the
world, such as that of the Chinese in the US (Ong: 6), the quest to accumulate capital and social
prestige in the global arena, emphasizes and is regulated by practices favoring flexibility,
mobility and repositioning in relation to markets, governments and cultural regimes. In the
Palestinian case this acquisition of capital reflects a struggle for economic survival. While a
New York businessmen may not need to expend more than a fraction of second of his time on a
million dollar transaction, thanks to the time-space compression enabled by new information
technologies (Harvey 1989), a Palestinian transnational refugee in many countries in the
Middle-East will most likely need to spend days to make a much more modest transfer. In
contrast to many euphoric transnational studies, our fieldwork suggests the importance of not
ignoring the class stratification that is linked to global systems of production.

Finally, comparing the potential Palestinian case with other return experiences is crucial. many
studies, like those of Nicholas Van Heer (1997) has provided us with a very enlightening
conclusion drawn from several case studies about return migration as a generator of
employment and encouraging the flourishing of the economy. He studied four return

- The expulsion of 50,000 Asians from Uganda in 1972 and a small return (some 7,000) two
decades later. The return was an important factor in the recovery of the Ugandan economy.

- The forced exodus of 300,000 ethnic Turks from Bulgaria to Turkey from mid 1989. In this
case, external assistance aided integration greatly.

- The exodus of 350,000 Palestinians from Kuwait and other Gulf States.

The mass migration from Kuwait and the Gulf represented a ten per cent growth in Jordan‘s
population, increasing it to approximately 3.8 million. While the immediate consequences of
the mass arrival were negative and disruptive, some longer term benefits with great potential
for the national economy became apparent within the first two years. Two factors played a
major role in the positive economic impact: firstly, the majority of the returnees were
well-educated skilled professionals who immediately entered the labor market and, secondly, a
large influx of capital estimated at some $1.5 billion entered Jordan simultaneously with the
returnees (central bank of Jordan 1992). The economic behavior of the returnees and the
manner of their social integration could tell us much about what to expect.

In all these cases, external assistance was a positive factor in integration. In comparison, the
expulsion of 800,000 Yemenis from the Gulf states, with no external assistance in the late
1990‘s, showed a negative impact on the society of origin.

We can also draw some lessons from the Israeli experience. Israel also had a high rate of
investment during the peak period of migration. Between 1950-1955 the investment rate was
13%, and similarly during the waves of Soviet Jewish migration between 1988-1992 the rate
was 13.6% (Naqib, 2003: 45).

                                                                                 10/10/2011 12

Motivation of the Investment in the "Homeland": Between Homo Economicus and
Homo Patriotus

Those of the diaspora who have chosen to invest state that they do not expect to achieve profit
quickly. Any region in the Middle East, they note, would be serve as a wiser location for
investment than Palestine.

A preliminary survey that Sari Hanafi conducted on the rationale behind investment on the part
of Palestinian diasporic business people revealed that the majority expressed the opinion that
Palestine was not the best place for investment. This fact was particularly emphasized in
relation to the industrial sector, where the neighboring countries were seen as offering more
advantages. The majority of decisions in favor of investments in Palestine, however, were
taken for social rather than for strictly economic reasons. However, such economic behavior
cannot be explained simply by portraying members of the Palestinian diaspora as particularly

II-2. Social capital: density of social kinship ties

The extended family network has usually been an important safety net for Palestinian
householders. But how are the transnational kinship networks affected when the occupation
and national borders structure, extend and deepen the rupture? We will see that these networks
have different levels:

Concerning the relation with abroad, according to a PSR survey of 2003 highlighting the
importance of ties in West Bank and Gaza with abroad: around two thirds have family
members abroad. However, this does not mean that they all have strong ties. This issue remains
uninvestigated in this survey. A quarter also has ties with family who permanently migrate
abroad. Thus we will have two different group‘s behaviors. The migration of these relatives is
not necessarily an old one. That is to say those who were forced to leave in 1948 or 1967. It is
worth mentioning that, according to UNRWA statistics that for Syria and Lebanon, only
around 2% of Palestinian refugees are originally from West Bank and Gaza. Jordan and Egypt
are the exception, in that from these areas (for Jordan 41%).

Concerning the relationship with 1948 territories, less ties are identified. Only 21.3% has
family, half of them with the first cycle family and around two thirds with the second cycle.
However, very few have new marriage ties: only 15%.

Many fieldworks conducted show a profile of fractured networks inside the nuclear family
(Hanafi, 2001; Isotalo, 2002). While mothers and children may reside in one country, husbands
and fathers may live and work in other states, while grandparents and more distant relatives
may live in still other countries. This is also confirmed by studies collected by the Israeli
human rights organization B‘tselem.11 The fractured family experience could indicate that the
return will not necessarily be that of the whole family, especially in the first years.

   . This pattern is also found in other diaspora groups. Ong (1999: 20) that cultural norms dictate the formation of
translocal business networks in the case of overseas Chinese living abroad; males possessed mobility while
women and children remain the disciplinable subjects of familial regimes

                                                                                                  10/10/2011 13

Males used to decide the mobility of both themselves and their female and child family
members. Such decisions are also based on other factors and in many cases are embedded in
market structures. However, the person (mainly male but could be female) who has found
suitable employment then brings the family to join him/her and makes the decision concerning
the family's mobility. These decisions are also based on the availability of affordable
educational opportunities for the child members of the family.

Many studies also show the persistence of a high rate of endogamy in the Palestinian family.
Fafo study (Pedersen et al., 2001: 80-84) shows the importance of endogamy. ―The family, and
in particular the parents play an important role in the process of finding an appropriate marriage
partner in Palestinian society. Only 36.6% (for the women born between 1940-1949) and 43%
(for women born between 1960-1969) have marriage outside of the relatives or hamula.
Marriages are often arranged (Manasra 1993; Tuastad 1993,1996; Tucker 1993; Khoury and
Massad 1992; Ata 1986; Granqvist 1931) as is the case in most of the Arab world. The mother
plays a more informal role in this process, while the father is the one who makes the final
decision (Tuastad 1993,1996). Endogamy is an important feature of Arab marriage – marriage
within the same lineage, sect, community, group, village or neighborhood. Marriages between
first cousins and between blood-related kin are the most common forms of endogamy in this
part of the world (Holy 1989)‖. Riina Isotalo‘s thesis (forthcoming) shows that even in the
transnational level endogamy practices also exist, but much less so than when the relative lives
in the same country. This then allows many unexpected groups to join the family member.

The importance of the physical contact is confirmed to be very important for the economic
transaction and especially the help. A Fafo study (Sletten and Pederson, 2003: 47) shows the
reliance of the family living in the Palestinian Territories on those members abroad, but the
lack of means of physical communication hinders a lot of transactions. Usually the transfer
does not go through banks but through familial visits and the money is brought as present.

The foregoing shows the importance of migration culture with family support in the Palestinian
case: according to the PSR survey of 2003, two thirds of the residents of the Palestinian
Territories habitually traveled. This culture is encouraged and supported by the previous
departure of relatives. According to another Fafo survey in Jordan in 1996, the migration
history data, which covers the entire life-span of a representative sample of this population
indicates a highly mobile population overall: half the distribution of adults have moved at one
point in their life, although not necessarily outside of Jordan (Khawaja and Tiltnes, 2002:
28-29). Furthermore, during this intifada some people show propensity to leave the Palestinian
Territories because of the security and economic situation. According to the Fafo study
elaborated by Sletten and Pederson (2003: 31) referring to a report that around 100,000
Palestinians are thought to have left the West Bank for Jordan and Western countries since the
beginning of the Intifada. This means an increase in the migration rates that prevailed under the
Israeli occupation from 1967-1993. In any case, the according to the Israeli Central Bureau of
Statistics, the annual migration was formerly 0.5-2% of the population, that is 5,000 -15,000
from the West Bank and 3,000 - 7,000 from Gaza Strip (ICBS, 1993: 760). It is very hard to
find indicators, as this migration is silent because people feel ashamed to leave during the
national struggle that the Intifada represents. However, according to the World Bank report
(2003:35), which made reference to poll data, ―2% of respondents said that family members
had gone abroad for extended periods‖. We expect that people who leave are well-educated,
and not from among the working class. All this shows an easiness on the part of the Palestinian
refugees, either to emigrate or to return home.

                                                                                  10/10/2011 14

We conclude from this that there are two main categories of people who are likely to come: the
first category consists of those without kinship ties in the Palestinian Territories or Israel. Their
coming is really subject to a) the political push factor of the host country; b) the economic push
factor from the host country; c) the economic pull factor from Palestinian Territories and Israel.
The second category is people having ties with these areas: they are subject to these factors but
they also have a strong social capital. This capital would motivate, encourage and facilitate the

Taking into consideration the fact that many of the Palestinians from both categories also have
connections with Canada and the USA (Fafo survey), the possibility of migrating is enormous.
The choice of Canada and the USA (and eventually Europe and Australia) will not be favored
only in terms of kinship but also because of the educational system. Around a third of the
interviewees that we interviewed in the Gulf went to Canada and the USA to benefit from the
educational system.

II-3. The Camp Life

The impact of the socio-economic situation, urban location and the status of the Palestinian
refugees in the host country is a very important factor which will encourage or discourage the
Palestinian refugees to be repatriated. Here I will deal only with the refugee camp issues in the
Palestinian Territories.

Society in the Palestinian Territories is not integrative, either for the returnees or for the
refugees, for two reasons: it is a highly fragmented society and its territoriality and the extent
of the integration among its members is not subject to social factors at the national level alone,
but beyond that to the diasporic sphere.

Culturally and socially speaking, the refugees in the Palestinian Territories are well inserted
into the society where they live when it is outside of a camp, but this insertion becomes
problematic with those living in the camps. This difficult insertion cannot be explained
straightforwardly by inferior social status, but by an absence of urban integration. According to
the PSR survey of 2003, around 40% of the refugees have at least one member of their family
married to a non-refugee, while this percentage decreases to half that figure when they are
camp dwellers.

The nature of the life in the camps and the propensity for return is interrelated. According also
to the Jarrar study, the refugees‘ attitudes toward themselves and camp life, on repatriation and
integration, on the one hand had motivated the refugees to return, while decreasing their
integration opportunities. As their political self-esteem was high and their housing conditions
were bad, they felt that they differed from the locals, and their social status in others‘ eyes was
low. On the other hand, the mistrust and the lack of harmony among them, and the lack of
readiness of the members of the political factions to work together decreased their capability to
obtain repatriation. Considering that, they still feel that they differed from the locals and that
their social status in others‘ eyes is low, these factors made their integration opportunities very
narrow. The effect of refugees‘ attitudes toward Israel was no less contradictory on the topic of
repatriation and integration, than their attitudes toward themselves. From one side, they
expressed their bitterness, pain, and experiences of maltreatment at the hands of Israelis, and
their mistrust of Israel. From the other side, a significant proportion of the refugees expressed

                                                                                    10/10/2011 15

their readiness to live under Israeli rule and even to give Israel a large part of their land if Israel
allows them to return. This shows the dilemma these refugees are facing. They expressed their
bitterness and bad experiences with Israel, while at the same time they are willing to return and
live under its rule. This is due mainly to their poor economic and housing conditions and their
nostalgia for home (Jarrar, 2003).

One of the hypotheses of this study consists in classifying the Palestinian refugees in two
categories: those who are dwellers of a camp and those who are not. The differentiation is very
important, as will be developed below.

Palestinian nationalist discourse used to base its legitimacy on two issues: the Nakba and the
right of return of the refugees. To keep this nationalism as strong as possible, the camp was
seen as the first unit to keep the refugee identity in the Arab host countries, and thereby to
maintain Palestinian identity. For that the camp as a quasi-political entity becomes a subject of
the political sciences. The camps were shown as reproducing the structure of Palestinian
society like that pertaining before 1948. Following this logic, the researchers tried to identify
the reproduction of place of origin in the camps: Lobieh, Safad, etc. used to be seen in Ain Al
Huilwé and Yarmouk camps. There is a clear ethnicization of refugees‘ history in overlooking
the importance of the economic, social and cultural relationship with the host countries. There
have been numerous studies in the other disciplines: sociology, psychology, anthropology and
juridical studies, but very rarely in urban studies. The refugee camps have not yet been studied
as urban sites.

Many myths were circulated, not only in popular thought but also within the scholarly
community: more Palestinians in the camps, more memory and more Palestinian identity
means more people return. The more the camp is miserable, the more people do not want to
settle in the host countries. The bio-power and regime of truth cannot be exercised by
UNRWA and the host country‘s authority unless these people are gathered in a centralized and
controlled place where they can be under constant surveillance. The discourse about the
refugee camp is a discourse of stagnation and muzzling the camp.

The camps in the Palestinian Territories have become a figure of territorial illegitimacy due to
two processes, from above and from below:

1-      From above: Camps are invisible for the Oslo process. The new regime of surveillance
by Israel makes the Palestinian Territories zones A, B and C, while the PNA divide the land
according to refugee and non-refugee areas. It excludes the refugee camps from any urban
project or infrastructure.

2-      From below: Camps as heterotopic places, in the Foucauldian sense, disconnected from
the social and urban tissues in their neighboring areas. To an extent this has happened
gradually, and would be expedited by the local election which excluded the refugee camp
dwellers from voting. According to Marx (1978) the refugee camps lost their temporary nature
and became low-class residential neighborhoods.

This deligitimization makes the refugee camps slum areas: local urban identity becomes a
decisive factor in making the local and the national. Any minor social problem between people
of the city and camp dwellers quickly becomes disproportionate, as with the former clashes
between Kalandia and Ramallah. We cannot understand the problematic of refugee camps
unless we study them as urban sites. Many years of double marginalization of the refugee

                                                                                      10/10/2011 16

camps in West bank and Gaza (from the Israeli authority and from the PNA and the
municipality) have made these areas like any slum area in the world. This site should be studied
as an urban one, and approached by scholars in a similar manner as, for example, the suburbs of

According to the UNRWA statistics of 2001, there are 1,460,396 Palestinian refugees in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip of which 607,915 live in the camps. In West Bank, from 607,770
refugees, 24% are camp dweller (147,884) (See table 3). Regarding Gaza, there are 852,626
refugees of which 460,031 are camp dwellers (around 53%), according to al-Rimawi and
al-Bokhari (2002: 23-24). The three scenarios elaborated in the end will take as parameter to
which extend the camps in Palestinian Territories are improved as there are the most fragile
population. It is true in terms of health and education services the camps are better equipped,
but in all the economic indicators the camp dwellers are more disadvantaged,12 particularly
concerning the unemployment rate, which is 21.5% (compared to 17.2% and 16% respectively
in urban and rural areas). The poverty also in the camps is more structural. The poor of the rural
areas can always cultivate a piece of land for their basic needs, whereas the camp dwellers tend
not to have any land. The fragility appears even more important if we compare the places of
work of the camps and of the urban and rural areas: the camp dwellers work much more with
the PNA (where the salary is very modest):27.4% compared to 19.5% and 12.8% in urban and
rural areas respectively. Also the fragility is more pronounced regarding employment with
international organizations where the salary is very high: only 16.7% from the work force are
dwellers in the camps compared to 15.6 and 26.8 in urban and rural area respectively.
However, there is an exception to this tendency regarding employment with UNRWA: 5.7% of
the work forces in the camps and 1.4% and 0.4% respectively in urban and rural areas. For the
private sector where salaries are less than in international organizations but more than in the
PNA, the camps dwellers are also less represented than in urban areas (34.7 of the work force
against 46.6% respectively), but slightly bigger than in rural area (33.2%).

 The incompatibility between educational and economic situations arises due to the fact that
people for whom economic status and situations are improved usually leave the camp for a
better place, usually in urban areas in the big cities, where the availability of work is greater.

Finally, the Palestinian refugee camp dwellers feel this marginalization, and are willing to
change their urban status: according to PSR survey of 2003, half of the refugees would not
mind being settled outside of the camp, and would accept normalization of the camp (87%
prefer to vote in the municipality level when the camp is inside the city, and three quarters
when it is outside). Around the half are in favor of enlargement of the camp inside the city

III. Conclusion

As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees‘ data demonstrates, the number of
refugees in the world returning to their various countries of origin once return is possible is far
less than the number choosing resettlement in the host country or patriation to a third-party
state. This is due to a number of reasons, but the chief among them being the structure of the

  All the following statistics are drown from the 1997 census. (al Rimmawi and Bukhari, 2002) We had an
updated figure but we prefer to neutralize the intifada effect to be able to understand the provision of the future.

                                                                                                  10/10/2011 17

global labor market. The Bosnian case provides some hints for this study: even before the ink
was dry on the December 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, a vigorous debate was under way
about return. The controversy intensified in 1996, when it became clear that large-scale,
voluntary returns were not likely to take place quickly (UNHCR, 2000:168).

Through all the arguments brought up by this study, it is clear that return is determined by
many factors which go beyond the mere right of return. But the right of return is the key for any
solution as it will open up the various choices available to the Palestinian refugees after more
than half a century of exile. Fieldwork and studies conducted in 13 countries of the Palestinian
diaspora have not uncovered a homogenous population of 5 million refugees, all of whom
would exercise their right of return, but in actuality a far smaller number. Thus it is difficult to
imagine one single scenario, due to the uncertainties of the results of the road map and the
possible reaction on the part of the Arab states,13 both of which would cause the figure to vary
tremendously. Based on a wide spectrum of factors influencing the realization of return, we can
talk about three scenarios, which vary according mainly to two parameters: the right of return
and the improvement of the refugee camps.

Scenarios of volume of return

First scenario:

Right of return is possible with Israeli restriction, camps without major improvement

The different movement will be calculated, as follows:

1- According to PSR survey of 2003, 13% declared a willingness to return to their home in
1948. This means around 190,000 refugees.

2- According to the PSR survey of 2003, around 25% of the population has relatives in Western
countries. Of course this does not necessarily mean close kinship ties, so this figure should be
less. As with the promotion of a solution, a ‗generous‘ quota will be provided for the
Palestinians by these countries, we can anticipate that 5% of refugee camp dwellers will choose
to settle near to their relatives (30,000), and a further 2% of the refugees outside of the camps
(17,000). The percentage in both cases is small to take into account the fractured nature of the
Palestinian family. This means the head of family lives temporarily until s/he finds a proper job
and relative settlement.

3- As the camps will not be improved: it is to be expected that 15% of camp dwellers will quit
the camps: around 90,000 will leave to live in the Palestinian cities.

4- According to PSR survey of 2003, two thirds of the Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian
Territories have relatives abroad. As the number of Palestinian refugees and displaced abroad
and originally from the West Bank and Gaza Strip is around one million, again taking into
account the fractured nature of the Palestinian family, we can expect 20% of them would come
and settle in the Palestinian Territories. This is the equivalent of 200,000 potential new comers.

  A Palestinian residing in Lebanon may not be able to determine his or her intention to return if the Lebanese
position remains unclear. Will the Palestinians be literally thrown onto the border, as occurred in Libya, or will he
or she be given the right of choice?

                                                                                                  10/10/2011 18

5- The number of Palestinians in Arab countries, according to an estimate of PCBS, is around
4,017,000 (of which 402,000 are in Lebanon)14 and 525,000 in Western countries. For
Lebanon, as the situation of the Palestinians is critical, we expect around half of them (mainly
camp dwellers) to come to Palestinian Territories or Israel, even if they have no kinship ties;
thus around 150,000 will come. Other than the Palestinians of Lebanon, we should expect the
Palestinians resident in Arab countries originally from 1948 (subtracting 30% of the population
of Palestinians in Jordan and Egypt, as they are originally from West Bank and Gaza) to come
for different reasons (patriotism; push factor from the host countries; pull factors form Israel or
Palestinian Territories). If we talk about 15% we will have 390,000. For people resident in
Western countries we expect 3% to return (15,000). Those 405,000 will be distributed two
thirds in the Palestinian Territories and one third in their original home inside of Israel.

Second scenario

Right of return is possible with Israeli restriction; camps are improved.

The urban rehabilitation of the camps is not impossible. The major problem is in infrastructure
and housing rather than health and educational services, which are provided to a relatively
acceptable level by UNRWA. The problem is also much less serious in the West Bank than in
Gaza, as the dwellers of camps in the former constitute 6.4% of the population while in Gaza
the figure is 31.1%. Nevertheless the big decision of improving the camps concerns also an
organizational aspect which does not require vast financial resources, such as improving the
representation of the camps in the local authorities.

The movement of refugees is predicted as following:

1- I predict the return to Israel in this case would be less than the previous scenario: around
10%. This means around 145,000 refugees.

2- I expect 3% of refugee camp dwellers would choose to settle in a third country, to be near
to their relatives (18,000), and 2% of the refugees outside of the camps (17,000).

3- A small portion would leave the camp for social reasons, as after the physical and practical
improvement of the camps, the social standing and political prestige will remain for a long
time. I expect 5% to leave the camp (30,000).

4- As with the first scenario, we can expect 20% of the Palestinians originally from the West
Bank and Gaza dwelling abroad to come and settle in the Palestinian Territories, we will have
200,000 potential new comers.

5- As with the first scenario, 405,000 could come from abroad and this would be shared two
thirds in the Palestinian Territories and one third in their home now inside of Israel.

Third scenario

Right of return not ensured

  This figure overnumber the Palestinian effectively resident in Lebanon. Apparently this includes the
Palestinians hiving Lebanese travel document or passports. We think the number cannot go beyond 300,000.

                                                                                          10/10/2011 19

Third scenario

Right of return not ensured

Almost 20% of the dwellers of refugee camps used to work in Israel before the second Intifada.
This portion could be resumed, but people will experience a high degree of alienation from
working in one place and living in another.

The movement of refugees is predicted as following:

1-    I predict only light individual return through inter-marriage (less than 10,000 coming
from West Bank and Gaza and 20,000 coming from the diaspora).

2-       I expect 10% of refugee camps dwellers to choose to settle in a third country near to
their relatives (60,000) and 3% from the refugees outside of the camps (25,000).

3-      As with the first and second scenarios, we can expect 20% of the Palestinian refugees
abroad originally from the West Bank and Gaza to come and settle in the Palestinian
Territories: this will give 200,000 potential new comers.

4-     As with the first and second scenarios, 405,000 could come from abroad and as they
cannot come to Israel, those will dwell in Palestinian Territories.

For a summary of these scenarios see table 4.

                                  Table 4: Different scenarios

             Return from      Return of       Immigrating        Getting out of   Coming
             Palestinian      refugees from   from Palestinian   the camps        from
             Territories      abroad to       Territories to                      abroad to
             to inside the    inside the      Western                             Palestinian
             Green Line       Green Line      countries                           Territories
First        190,000          135,000         47,000             90,000           470,000
Second       145,000          135,000         35,000             30,000           470,000
Third        10,000           20,000          85,000             30,000-90,000 605,000

Profile of returnees

The potential returnees do not constitute a homogenous group; on the contrary, potential
returnees represent diverse social, cultural, political and economic strata of the refugees and
diaspora population, varying from illiterate laborers to highly educated professionals and

It is also very hard to predict with precision the percentage of each of the socio-economic
categories and the type of return the refugees would exercise: family definitive return;
individual return; flexible return with transnational behavior, being in two places and keeping

                                                                                  10/10/2011 20

always the possibility of moving; investment without moving; providing expertise through a
short stay in the Palestinian Territories. But what is sure is that a combination of different
patterns will emerge and this will be beneficial to the Palestinian economy, as the mode of
entrepreneurship is familial and the kinship ties still strong between the West Bank and Gaza
Strip on the one hand and from abroad on the other (especially with Jordan and Egypt,
respectively). However, the possibility of investing in the Palestinian economy in Israel is less
probable, as there is no such economy existing autonomously, and as people will not feel loyal
to the Israeli system (if it maintains its Jewish character), and as the kinship ties there are very

The Palestinian economic elite abroad will invest by capital and by physical return, as it will
seek to enhance its social standing in country or village of origin, even if the situation would
remain un-conducive to investment, and the economic rationalities are not ensured, as we have
seen in all post-conflict and transitional countries (Hungary, Romania, Bosnia, etc.) where the
diaspora elite play a role in the political arena. Extrapolating from the rate of investment and
philanthropic activities (family and others) of the Palestinian diaspora (see table 1), I expect not
less than half a billion US dollars per year over the ten-year period following the independence
of the Palestinian State.

There will be two concurrent movements: one of the mass returnees and one of the select
people, graduates and professionals as well as entrepreneurs.

Two conclusions can be drawn. First, we always under-evaluate the importance of education
and know-how from the Palestinian refugees‘ side. Many statistical indicators show that a
quarter of Palestinian refugees in the Arab host countries are entrepreneurs according to the
definition of the ILO (self-employed and employers). Thus we expect a quarter of returnees
will be able to recycle themselves in the new Palestinian market. The return in any case cannot
be considered a pure burden for the Palestinian economy. To the contrary, it could be the
generator of it, thanks to the human and financial capitals that the refugees will bring with them
to the country of origin. Secondly, the Palestinian youth entity has the right to adopt a policy of
selectivity like many countries in post-conflict areas have adopted. Historically, the policy of
selecting the (return) migrants is applied to all countries which have received a mass return
from their nationals, or a like influx from another country. Even when the return is very
ideological, as with the case of the Israeli ‗aliya’, selectivity was always the rule of the game,
kept firmly under Israeli authority. ―As stated in 1949 by the Ministry of Finance, Eliezer
Kaplan: ‗We need workers and fighters‘‖ (quoted in Segev, 1986: 117). Thirdly, if the Arab
states do not oblige the Palestinian refugee to quit, I expect that there will be a pioneer group
from the refugees who will return, then once they give a ‗good report‘ about the their situation
the relatives and the social networks to whom this group belong will encourage the others to
come, and so on. Finally, we expect the return of retired people, especially from Gulf and
Western countries, to Palestinian Territories and Israel. This form of long-stay ‗tourism‘ will
be beneficial to the Palestinian economy, and these people will not need a direct absorption.

Patterns of Return: Challenging the classical model of Nation-State

People prefer to keep a flexible citizenship and to have more than one passport, even if they
want to settle in one place. According to PSR survey of 2003, around 60% of people willing
return to Israel want to have nationality from the Palestinian state; only 2% want Israeli

                                                                                   10/10/2011 21

nationality around a quarter of the sample prefer having the two nationalities.15 If the
accumulation of foreign passports for some businesspeople is ―a matter of convenience‖ and
―matter of confidence‖ in uncertain political times (Ong, 1999: 1), for almost all of the
Palestinians who reside abroad, it is a matter of survival. Not having a passport can render them
immobile and force them to live clandestine lives (Hanafi 2001). For those who have not
possessed a passport during their lifetime, but have had to make do with a travel document, the
passport signifies and allows basic connectivity to their family, as well as participation in labor
markets. While the classic model of return migration studies envisions mainly definitive return,
the concept of return can be amplified to include a form of being ―in between‖. Transnational
studies provide an excellent conceptual framework for analysis of the life experience of
migrants in the former category, those who choose to live between worlds (see Ruba Salih,
2000; Basch et al., 1994). This emerging group of immigrants/returnees, in contrast to previous
ones, actively participates in the cultural, social, economic and political life of both the country
of origin and the host country. This flexible citizenship is impossible to be realized if the future
Palestinian State is conceived as a classic nation-state. I suggest here that this state should an
extra-territorialized nation state.

In view of our research, and the tension between the transnational practices of Palestinian
transmigrants/returnees/refugees and the policies of the Palestinian state that it observes, it may
be that the PNA could be more reliable as an extra-territorialized nation-state rather than a
de-territorialized one. This kind of state is territorialized in the manner of any other state, but
with the difference that it distinguishes between citizenship and nationality. Accordingly, the
rights and the duties of those who live in the Palestinian Territories would not be a function of
their nationality (i.e whether they are Palestinian or not.) At the same time, those who live
abroad who are of Palestinian origin, could also enjoy rights and duties, even though not
residing permanently in the Palestinian Territories. Notably, such an arrangement would be
possible only if the Palestinian National Authority was able to enter into special agreements
with countries which host Palestinian refugees that would facilitate the attainment of full dual
citizenship. Accordingly, Palestinian citizenship would be available even to people residing
outside of Palestine. This, particularly in light of outstanding questions regarding the
absorption capacity of Palestinian refugees, could be an honorable solution for those who are
not willing to return but who would nevertheless like to belong to a Palestinian nation and to be
involved in Palestinian public affairs. We should expect also that many Palestinian refugees
will choose return only to obtain Palestinian nationality and then leave or simultaneously
maintain two places of residency.

Table 1: Total Financial Contribution of the Palestinian Diaspora (US$ million)
Total Contribution                     1996           1997
Total Investment                                   303.8             311.1
Philanthropic and familial Aid                     104.206           99.111
Total Contribution of the Diaspora                 408.006           410.211
Donors‘ Foreign Aid                                549.414           432.259
Diverse sources. See (Hanafi, 1998b).

     Such decision is not easy: 16% of the sample don‘t have an opinion.

                                                                                   10/10/2011 22

Table 2: Refugees’ Attitudes Towards Realistic Solutions to their Problem, in
percentage, 1993
Camps      Return Home Under Israeli Rule Compensation
           Agree do not       disagree      agree    do not disagree
                    know                             know
Fari‘a     41.7     6.3       52.0          29.8     4.3      65.9
Balata     54.8     4.1       41.1          14.2     6.8      74.0
Average    49.6     5.0       45.4          23.9     5.8      70.8

                       Table 3: Refugees Registered with UNRWA

                                   Refugees Refugees Total No.
                No. of Refugees                                proportion of
    Field                          Inside    Outside of
                Camps Inside Camps                             local
                                   Camps (%) Camps Refugees
    Jordan      10     287951      17.5      1351767 1639718 32.8% *
              19    170056      27.9       437714            607770    31.4% **
    Gaza      8     460031      53.9       392595            852626    78.4% **
    Lebanon 12      214728      56         168245            382973    10.7% *
    Syria     10    200054      51         191597            391651    2.4 % *
    Total all
              59    1332820                2541917           3874738
Source: UNRWA in Figures, UNRWA HQ, September 2001

* Statistics of 2000

** Census of 1997


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