Zakaria Al-Agha, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and of the PLO Executive Committee, said recently that the Palestinian Right of Return, as formulated in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194, was indisputable, but that "someone who returns also has the right to receive compensation." "It is about return, as well as compensation," said Al-Agha. He added that the refugees must return "to their cities, villages, and homes," and not the Palestinian state that will be established. The interview aired on Palestine TV on May 11, 2016.
Following are excerpts
Zakaria Al-Agha: With regard to UNGA Resolution 194 about the Right of Return - some talk about the right to return or to get compensation, but that is not true. The resolution states that any Palestinian refugee, who left his home or was driven out of it, has the right to return. This is a basic right, which is indisputable. Any Palestinian who wants to return has the right to do so. In addition, he has the right to receive compensation for the damages caused to his property, or for the occupier's use of his property. He also has the right to receive compensation for this property. So it is about return, as well as compensation.
When people say return "or" compensation, it refers to compensating people who do not wish to return. Such a person should receive compensation for his property, and for its usage in the period prior to his relinquishing [his right to return]. But someone who returns also has the right to receive compensation, right?
The resolution talks about return and compensation, and there is no alternative interpretation. With regard to the issue of where the refugees will return to - it is very clear that the refugees should return to the cities, villages and homes from which they were driven out. This is not about returning to the Palestinian state. Some people say that the Palestinian state should be the homeland of the refugees. No. There are refugees now within that state - in Gaza and in the West Bank. Yet we consider them to be refugees, living in the state of Palestine, and the Palestinian Authority, or the Palestinian state, is considered a state hosting these refugees. These refugees have the right to return to their cities, villages, and homes. Their presence here is no different from their presence in Lebanon, Syria, or elsewhere.
A few years ago, when things got tougher in the refugee camps in Lebanon, and there were problems, along with the war that started in Syria, and the Palestinian refugees there were suffering, brother Abu Mazen proposed that Palestine would receive those refugees, or [at least] those who want to leave or encounter problems. Israel responded that it would agree to this, on condition that they would relinquish their Right of Return. The Palestinian leadership rejected this condition, because their presence in or their entrance into the territory of the Palestinian state does not mean that they returned to their homes.