In 1917, the British Empire wrested Palestine away from the Ottoman Turks and occupied the land there until 1947. Shortly thereafter, the UN decided to divide the area into a country for the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews accepted this partition plan even though they were only going to receive 20% of the land and even though Jerusalem would not be completely included either.
Not one of the 22 Arab states were happy with this partition simply because it provided Jews with a Jewish country. Not only did they reject it, but seven Arab nations decided to wipe it off the map within one day of its birth.
In order to protect Arabs, those seven nations warned the Arabs living in Israel at the time to flee, to get out of the way of their incoming armies. Those Arabs, approximately 539,000 of them, followed their instructions and voluntarily abandoned their homes and property so that the Jews would (in their hope) be murdered and eliminated. The seven nations promised the Arabs that they could return and move into the Jews' houses after the anticipated successful annihilation of the Jews.
"We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down." -Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, quoted in Sir Am Nahbah ("The Secret Behind the Disaster") by Nimr el Hawari Nazareth, 1952
The Palestinian Jews tried to get the Palestinian Arabs to stay.
"Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and business open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe. [However] ...A large road convoy, escorted by [British] military... left Haifa for Beirut yesterday... Evacuation by sea goes on steadily. ...[Two days later, the Jews were] still making every effort to persuade the Arab populace to remain and to settle back into their normal lives in the towns... [as for the Arabs,] another convoy left Tireh for Transjordan, and the evacuation by sea continues. The quays and harbor are still crowded with refugees and their household effects, all omitting no opportunity to get a place on one of the boats leaving Haifa." -Haifa District HQ of the British Police, April 26, 1948, quoted in Battleground by Samuel Katz
The Arabs refused, choosing instead to abandon their possessions and land. "The Arabs did not want to submit to a truce; they rather preferred to abandon their homes, their belongings and everything they possessed in the world and leave the town. This is in fact what they did." -Jamal Husseini, Acting Chairman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, told to the United Nations Security Council, quoted in the UNSC Official Records (N. 62), April 23, 1948, p.14.
At the same time, 850,000 Jews were expelled from other Arab countries where they had lived for hundreds of years. Some of the people who were forced to leave were successful professionals, and they left behind their property which was, of course, immediately confiscated. They all fled to the newly born Israel.
These Jewish refugees were immediately accepted by the State of Israel. They were given shelter, food, and clothing. They were treated as equals.
The Arab refugees who had voluntarily abandoned their land and property for the other Arab nations were not welcomed. They were treated as unwelcome migrants and placed in dilapidated refugee camps. The UN, through UNRWA, gave assistance because the host countries refused to.
Eventually, the camps become training camps for terrorists whose goal was to eliminate Israel. The host countries provided the training, weapons, explosives, and yet, the Arabs still weren't considered full citizens.
Rather, these Arab countries kept the displaced Arabs in misery, fed their anger, and used them as tools against the Jews and Israel, and pawns in the worldwide media.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, a refugee is "someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence." Based on this definition, there are no Palestinian Arab refugees. The Palestinian Jews never forced any Palestinian Arabs to leave. Quite the contrary. The Jews practically begged the Arabs to stay.
The Haifa Workers Council posted a bulletin on April 28, 1948, stating, "...our city flourished and developed for the good of both Jewish and Arab residents... Do not destroy your homes with your own hands; do not bring tragedy upon yourselves by unnecessary evacuation and self-imposed burdens. By moving out you will be overtaken by poverty and humiliation. But in this city, yours and ours, Haifa, the gates are open for work, for life, and for peace, for you and your families."
Even Great Britain recognized what was going on. The Times of London reported on April 4, 1948, "...the Jewish Hagana asked (using loudspeakers) Arabs to remain at their homes but most of the Arab population followed their leaders who asked them to leave the country."
Additionally, even if they were refugees, this status does not extend to further generations.
"The refugee status of the Palestinians was perpetuated by the host countries and the Palestinian leadership, and by the international community, through the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the only UN body dedicated to a specific refugee group (all other refugees in the world are the responsibility of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees). As a result, refugee status was passed down from father to son to grandson over 50 years, so that, today, they number three million to four million. That is why the Palestinians now account for about one-fourth of the world's refugees -- an impressive figure until one imagines how many refugees there would be if all the Finns and Germans and Indian Hindus and Muslims and European Jews who were made refugees after the Second World War (not to speak of the Greeks and Turks and Armenians who were made refugees during and after the First World War) were still considered refugees in the year 2000." -Mark Heller, co-author of No Trumpets, No Drums: A Two-State Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
In essence, the "Arab Palestinian Refugee" problem is of their own doing. They made the decision to abandon their land, property, and possessions because they assumed the Arab countries would kill the Jews and defeat Israel. Their intent was evil and their actions backfired. They trusted other Arab countries who, not only failed to protect and take care of them, but then used them as weapons against the Israeli state and the Jews. They are now trying to take advantage of other countries, the UN, and people's ignorance of history and law. We cannot allow this.
The Palestinian Jews had requested that the Palestinian Arabs stay. Israel has gone above and beyond to make peace with them. They still turn it down. The Arabs still hate and kill. History hasn't changed, and neither will the future. Let us be honest with them and ourselves and move forward from here. Let us focus on Israel and her Jewish future.