Context: Right of Return
Today, there are an estimated seven million Palestinian refugees who have been refused the right to return to their homes despite recognition of this right by international law and UN Resolution 194 (1948). Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians languish in 58 registered refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
In contrast, all Jews in the world are eligible, under Israel’s 1950 Law of Return, to be fast-tracked to Israeli citizenship.
All refugees have an internationally recognized right to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced [to leave], to receive compensation for damages, and to regain their properties and receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right derives from a number of legal sources, including customary international law, international humanitarian law (governing rights of civilians during war), and human rights law. The United States government has forcefully supported this right in recent years for refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and elsewhere.
In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body, and has also been recognized by independent organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The US government supported Resolution 194, and voted repeatedly to affirm it until 1993. At that time, the Clinton administration began to refer to Palestinian refugee rights as matters to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict.
The Palestinian right of return is symbolized by a key.
For more about right of return, see this document from the American Friends Service Committee.