Salman Abu Sitta

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Salman Abu Sitta after giving a lecture at the University of Nottingham about the Palestinian refugees cause.

Salman Abu Sitta (Arabic: سلمان ابو ستة‎; born 1937) is a Palestinian researcher most known for his ground-breaking project mapping historic Palestine and developing a practical plan for implementing the right of return of Palestinian refugees.[1][2]


Abu Sitta was born in 1937 into a Palestinian family with a long tradition of fierce resistance to occupiers of their land. His family's land and the village bore their name, Ma'in Abu Sitta (the Abu Sitta springwell), in Beer Sheba District of Palestine. One morning in April 1948, he and other schoolboys were sent home for safety reasons, after being summoned by the headmaster and told that the Jews had occupied central Palestine. Abu Sitta made the 40 km journey from Beer Sheba town back to his home on foot, and six weeks later the family was attacked by the Jewish militia before Israel was declared and they became refugees in Gaza Strip. Abu Sitta moved to the prestigious al-Saidiya secondary school in Cairo, Egypt, where he graduated with "excellence", ranking first in Egypt. After graduating from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering in 1958, Abu Sitta went to the United Kingdom to continue his post-graduate studies, receiving his PhD in Civil Engineering from one of the well known colleges of the University of London, UCL.

  • Member of Palestine National Council
  • Researcher on refugee affairs and author of over 400 papers on the subject
  • Director of international development and construction projects
  • Founder and President of the Palestine Land Society (PLS)[3]
  • General coordinator of the Right of Return Congress.

Abu Sitta has engaged in debates with Israelis who profess interest in peace without the return of the refugees, including Uri Avnery and Rabbi Michael Lerner.[4]

Documentation of the 1948 Palestinian exodus (al Nakba)[edit]

Abu Sitta has spent 40 years digging for any detail of information about or related to Palestine before, during and after al Nakba, the destruction of Palestine. Abu Sitta's work has encompassed not only documenting the Nakba in which over 800,000 Palestinians were largely driven from their homes and villages, but also ensuring that "the memories and identity of the occupied homeland are never lost". He is regarded by Uri Avnery as perhaps 'the world's foremost expert on the Nakba'.[5] The documentation process began when he was 30 years old, when he stumbled on the memoirs of the Turkish chief of Beersheba,[6] when Palestine was under Ottoman rule. The document dated back to the early years of the twentieth century.

"It sort of started from there, and it has never stopped," Abu Sitta says. "I kept collecting all and any material on every inch of my homeland."

Abu Sitta ground breaking work was to show that the return of the refugees to their homes is not only sacred to Palestinians, legal under international law but also feasible and possible without major dislocation to the existing Jewish settlers in Palestine. His work also includes the compendium "Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966", (Palestine Land Society, London 2010, ISBN 978-0-9549034-2-8).

Published works[edit]




  1. ^ Irfan, Anne (20 January 2017). "Mapping my return: a Palestinian memoir". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 44 (2): 1–2. doi:10.1080/13530194.2016.1272216.
  2. ^ Abu Sitta, Salman (14–16 July 2006). al Awda "Back to Roots" Check |url= value (help). Al-Awda. Retrieved 23 February 2014. Address to 4th International Convention, San Francisco.
  3. ^ Palestine Land Society
  4. ^ 'Debate Between Salman Abu Sitta and Michael Lerner of Tikkun on The Right of Return,' CounterPunch 12 February 2003.
  5. ^ Uri Avnery, 'The Moral Right of the Refugees to Return,' Counterpunch 16–18 May 2014.
  6. ^ Amira Howeidy , 'Salman Abu Sitta: Right of Return, A Palestine perspective on life,' Archived 11 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Al Ahram 13–19 May 2004 Issue No. 690.

External links[edit]