Organisation in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council since 2015

  London, 26th April 2017 On Tuesday, 25th of April, the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) hosted an event in the Houses of Parliament titled “The Question of Jerusalem: Occupation, Discrimination, and Displacement.” This event was chaired by Mark Hendrick, the Labour MP for Preston, and included several notable academic speakers: Professor Wendy Pullan, Professor Penny Green, and Professor Kamel Hawwash. The topic of discussion was based around the Israeli project of expanding the Jewish population and reducing its Palestinian population in Jerusalem since the city’s annexation in 1967.     The first speaker, Professor Wendy Pullan, is a professor of Architecture and Urban Studies and Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. She was the Principal Investigator for ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State,’ an international and multidisciplinary research project based in the UK. Professor Pullan spoke on the influence of Israeli city planning and architecture on the subjugation and discrimination of the Palestinian population living in Jerusalem. She spoke on the concept of “Frontier Urbanism” in which decisions on city planning (for example, building settlements on top of hills or on rooftops - where the Palestinian population exists physically below the Israeli population) helps perpetuate confrontation.     The second speaker, Professor Kamel Hawwash, is a British-Palestinian engineering professor based at the University of Birmingham, and is also a longstanding campaigner for justice. He is vice chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council and a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Professor Hawwash gave a more personal narrative of the occupation and discrimination in Jerusalem, giving an account of his recent attempt to visit family in Jerusalem in which he was denied entry by Israeli authorities. He spoke of the pain and the everyday stress caused by not being able to return to his homeland, noting that “anyone else from Birmingham who has no connection to Israel may enter, but for me – whose family has called Jerusalem home for centuries – is unable to go.”   Lastly, Professor Penny Green spoke of the criminality associated with the Israeli occupation. Professor Green is a professor of Law and Globalization at Queen Mary, University of London, and a Director of the International State Crime Initiative. She has published extensively on state crime theory, state violence, mass forced evictions/displacement, and resistance to state violence. She gave a statistical analysis of the enormous scope of displacement and evictions of Palestinians from their homes by Israeli authorities and settlers. She spoke of the over seven million Palestinians who have since 1948, been expelled from their homes and who have been forced to become refugees and IDPs, losing their livelihoods in the process. She also spoke of the inherent everyday violence and dehumanization that takes place within Jerusalem, recalling an account of a friend who, when taking out her rubbish in Jerusalem, was thrown in the trash receptacle and called a “dirty Arab” by Israeli neighbors.     After the speakers, the discussion section included questions spanning from President Trump’s plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, to the role of the international community and the United Nations, and to the importance and strength of civil society and the BDS Movement in fighting for Palestinian rights. The event was important in that it looked at the occupation of Jerusalem in various lights – from the academic perspective of the effects of architecture to the personal accounts of those who call Jerusalem home. 
  New York, 12th Feb 2017 On Friday, 10th of February, the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) attended the 55th Session of the Commission for Social Development and hosted a side-event titled “Palestinian Refugees: Poverty, Challenges and Prospects”. This event, which was chaired by Deputy Ambassador to the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the UN in New York Feda Abdelhady-Nasser, looked at the socio-economic conditions faced by Palestinian refugees and the challenges they face to living a dignified life, focusing on the poverty levels which continue to worsen as a result of the ongoing conflicts taking place in the region.   The first speaker, Mr Matthias Schmale, is current Director of the UNRWA’s Representative Office in New York and holds a PhD in Development Economics from the Free University of Berlin. Mr. Schmale has over 24 years of professional experience in international humanitarian and development organisations, much of which is at senior management level. Mr. Schmale shared UNRWA’s perspective on the challenges faced by refugees in Syria and Lebanon in particular.   Mr. Pietro Stefanini, Researcher and Advocacy Coordinator at the PRC, spoke next. As well as being co-editor of the Journal of Palestinian Refugee Studies, Mr. Stefanini has recently presented the findings of his research and given talks at the European Parliament in Strasburg, in the UK Parliament and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He focused on the socio-economic challenges faced by Palestine refugees who are living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).   The third speaker, Ms. Anne Irfan, is a PhD student at London School of Economics, where she is researching the historical development of UNRWA’s work in the Palestinian refugee camps. In addition to this, she has been involved in a London-based campaign by NGOs to highlight the plight of Palestinian refugees from Syria, speaking on the subject in UK Parliament last year. Ms. Irfan looked at the role of education in tackling poverty among Palestinian refugees.   Finally, Ms. Leila Hilal, an independent researcher and writer on Middle East affairs and a former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team on refugees, concluded the session. Ms. Hilal, who has led numerous research missions on human rights and post-conflict scenario building and transitional justice in the Middle East, explored the topic of Palestinian refugee rights and solutions.   Many missions to the UN were in attendance, including Canada, Belgium and Argentina. Cuba was also in attendance and participated by commenting and asking questions. International NGO Human Rights Watch was present, among many other individuals and representatives. -
  Chairman of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), Majed al Zeer, presented a lecture on International Relations and the role of NGOs for a number of students in the Gaza Strip.    The lecture discussed the current International community stance on Palestine and the best methods to bring more support through the work of civil society. The online lecture delivered by Al Zeer focused on the role of pro Palestinian NGOs in promoting the Palestinian rights and attracting the support of International community on the basis of International law and the UN resolutions.   Al Zeer discussed also the work of PRC and its role in preserving Palestinian rights, particularly the issue of refugees.
On the 25th of October, the Palestinian Return Centre hosted the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign inside a packed out room in the House of Lords. The event was hosted and chaired by Baroness Jenny Tonge. Balfour Apology Campaign is a UK based campaign launched by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in 2013 to urge the British establishment to apologise for the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Britain’s legacy in Palestine marked an historical breach against the aspirations of the people of Palestine and shattered its hopes for freedom and self determination.   Baroness Jenny Tonge introduced introduce the evening stating “Tonight is the beginning of the apology” as she provided some background on the origins of the campaign and its significance for Palestinians.   First speaker of the evening was Majed Al-Zeer, President of the Palestinian Return Centre. Mr Al-Zeer. In regards to the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign, he stated that “We want official recognition of Palestinian suffering”. Mr Al-Zeer continued “We are committed to fight for the self-determination of Palestinians”.     The next speaker, Karl Sabbagh, British Palestinian Historian and Writer, discussed the three conditions that need to apply in order to seek an apology - harm caused, responsibility of the apologiser, and whether the original event was avoidable. Last speaker of the evening was Betty Hunter, Honorary President of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign discussed the importance to unite works towards changing British policy on Palestine. For Hunter it is fundamental to do so because “The Palestinian catastrophe is still ongoing” and the “International community must stand with Palestinian refugees”.  
On October 10th 2016 the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) organized an event inside the Attlee Suite of the UK Parliament to discuss the prospects of Palestinian refugees in Jordan. The event was hosted and chaired by Dr. Paul Monaghan MP of the Scottish National Party.
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