Between Asylum and Liberation: The New Palestinian Refugees

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Contemporary Palestinian asylum seekers raise fundamental questions regarding the relationship between the institution of asylum and struggles for national liberation. Underlying the legal framework that applies to them is an assumption of inverse correlation: the more Palestinians obtain access to individual asylum claims, the less secure are the fundamental Palestinian claims of self-determination and return. But is this trade-off acceptable today? Comparable dilemmas animate other large-scale displacements, but scholars seldom discuss their full implications for international legal theory. Rather than providing a definite answer to the question, this article maps out four major aspects of how individual protection and self-determination are interrelated, or, indeed, bifurcated, in international law. The new Palestinian refugees are important to consider not only because their continued displacement is foreseeable but also because their exceptional plight invites a reconsideration of the political foundations of refugee law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-516
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal of International Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s),. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of EJIL Ltd. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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