Zakaria Al-Agha
Zakaria Al-AghaScreenshot/MEMRI

A top Palestinian Authority (PA) official insisted that a Palestinian "Right of Return" should be to modern-day Israel - not to a "Palestinian state." 

Fatah Central Committee and PLO Executive Committee member Zakaria Al-Agha made the comments in a May 11 interview to Palestine TV. They were translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The Palestinian Right of Return, as formulated in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194, was indisputable, he said - but it must include "compensation." 

"It is about return, as well as compensation," he said, adding that Palestinian "refugees" must return "to their cities, villages, and homes."

"When people say return 'or' compensation, it refers to compensating people who do not wish to return," al-Agha clarified, defining this as compensation for property and "its usage" until the Right of Return is relinquished by the alleged owners. 

"Some people say that the Palestinian state should be the homeland of the refugees," al-Agha added. "No. There are refugees now within that state - in Gaza and in the West Bank (the PA - ed.)." 

"Yet we consider them to be refugees, living in the state of Palestine." 

The laws of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government currently forbid Palestinian Arabs anywhere from giving up on their "right of return," deeming those who do so to be traitors.

Al-Agha's claim highlights the issue of "Palestinian refugees" - the descendants of the roughly 800,000 Arab residents of Israel who left in 1948 as the surrounding Arab states launched a war to wipe out the fledgling state, and the only "refugees" in global politics who do not fit the typical definition of "refugee" as "the original people who were ousted from their homes."