August 7, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10743

PLO Summer Camps – Part II: Inculcating Non-Recognition Of Israel, Palestinian Refugees' Right Of Return To Homes Inside Israel

August 7, 2023
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10743

In July, 2023, some 650 summer camps were held in the West Bank,  the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Operated by the PLO's Higher Council for Youth and Sports, which is headed by Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, the camps were attended by some 65,000 boys and girls.[1] The camps are platforms for political indoctrination and incitement against Israel.  This year, as in the past, the content they imparted included glorification of terrorists (see Part I of this report), non-recognition of Israel and calls for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their original homes, including inside Israel. As part of inculcating the narrative of the right of return, activities often included the motif of the key as a symbol of this right.[2]

It should be noted that the PLO's Higher Council for Youth and Sports, which operates the camps, has received funding in the past from the EU and from UN organizations, including the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).[3] Today it continues to be the official Palestinian organ that collaborates with international bodies on youth empowerment projects, including with the UN and EU, which provide it with mentoring and counseling services. [4] 

This report presents photos of the camp activities and details on the messages imparted in these activities, including non-recognition of Israel and the refugees' right of return.

Palestine From The River To The Sea, Ignoring Israel's Existence

Maps shown and drawn at the PLO summer camps present Palestine as extending from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea, i.e., as including all the territory that is now Israel, except for the Golan Heights, claimed by Syria. This was evident, for example, in a lesson on "the map of Palestine" at a summer camp in Salfit. The text beneath the map described "the borders of the Palestinian state": " Lebanon and Syria in the north, Egypt and the Gulf of Akaba in the south, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the east, and the Mediterranean in the west," making no mention of Israel. [5] 

The map of Palestine presented at the Salfit summer camp

Below are further pictures of camp activities involving maps of Palestine from the river to the sea:

Child with a map of "Palestine" at a Gaza Strip camp (, July 16, 2023)

Campers in Hebron district form a map of Palestine with their bodies (, July 18, 2023), July 18, 17, 14, 11, 2023

Cities In Israel Presented As "Palestinian Cities"

As part of inculcating the principle of the refugees' blanket "right of return" to their original homes, the PLO summer camps dealt with their right to return to the "Palestinian cities" within Israel, such as Haifa, Acre, Safed, Tiberias, Jaffa, Ashkelon and Beersheba.

Child holds diorama titled "we return", with signs bearing the names of the cities Beersheba, Ramla, Acre, Jaffa, Tiberias, Haifa, Nazareth, Ashkelon, Safed, Lod and Beit Shean (, July 18, 2023)

At a Jenin summer camp: "The cities of Palestine": Lod, Safed, Beit Sean, Nazareth, Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ramla, Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Tiberias (, July 18, 2023)

Names of cities written on campers' hands (, July 14, 2023)

Keys Of Return

A recurring theme at the camps was that of keys representing the refugees' right to return to their homes, including inside Israel.

Girl at Gaza Strip camp holding a key and a map of Palestine from the river to the sea (, July 18, 2023)

Key bearing the message "we return" at a Jenin summer camp (, July 16, 2023)

Maps of Palestine from the river to the sea, alongside keys and Palestinian flags at Ramallah camp

Girls hold keys as part of "Homeland Day" activities at East Jerusalem camp (


[1], July 10, 2023; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 12, 2023. On the PLO-sponsored summer camps in the recent years, see e.g.,MEMRI reports: MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10166, At PLO-Sponsored Summer Camps In Palestinian Authority: Glorification Of Terrorists, Palestine From River To Sea, August 30, 2022; Special Dispatch No. 8157 - Palestinian Authority 2019 Summer Camps: Children Tear Up, Burn U.S. Flags, Pictures Of Trump – July 4, 2019.

[2] On this symbol see MEMRI reports: Special Dispatch No. 10710 - Palestinian Authority Opens Exhibition Of 'Keys Of Return' In Hebron – July 14, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 10623 - Nakba Day Events At West Bank Schools Assert Palestinian Refugees' Right To Return To Homes Inside Israel – May 23, 2023;
Special Dispatch No. 10597 - Ahead Of 75th Anniversary Of The Nakba, Palestinian Leadership Stresses It Will Never Relinquish Refugees' Right To Return To Their Homes – May 8, 2023. On the narrative of return in Palestinian textbooks, see Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 950, The Narrative Of Return In Palestinian Textbooks, March 20, 2013..

[4] For example, on December 10, 2020, the PA government signed a memorandum of understanding with UNICEF and UNDP and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to establish a Palestinian program for youth volunteerism, in cooperation with the Higher Council for Youth and Sports,, December 13, 2020; and, December 11, 2020. Moreover, the European Union (EU) and council cooperation is in the framework of a 2021-2024 assistance program to the PA, as part of which Denmark is designated to lead the issue of youth empowerment. The strategic goal of this operation is "empowering Palestinian youth to become agents of positive change within their communities." Following consultations held by the EU with the Higher Council for Youth and Sports and with UN organizations, it was decided that in 2021-2023, there would be emphasis on "increased participation of Palestinian youth in civil and political life.", June 2, 2023.

[5], July 19, 2023.

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