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      The Right of Return Congress
 
 
A statement attributed by Reuters to Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner General - UNRWA, and published in the Washington Post on August 9, 2005, stated that "few Palestinian refugees want to return to [their] lands lost in 1948 war of Israel's creation" and "any solution of this issue must be acceptable to both sides [i.e. including Israel]".  These statements were made to the Israeli daily Maariv.  A spokesman for AbuZayd said the quotes were accurate but "the position of UNRWA on this issue is clear and has never changed.  The refugees themselves must have the right to choose".
 
UNRWA has no independent position on the refugees other than that of the UN General Assembly which created UNRWA and to which UNRWA reports.
 
The UNGA, in its well-known resolution 194, has affirmed the Right of Return over 130 times and designated it as "Inalienable Right".  Generally, the same position has been affirmed by the Treaty-Based UN Committees, the regional conventions on human rights and practically all human rights NGOs.
 
The question of whether some refugees choose to return or not is irrelevant.  The Inalienable Right has no statute of limitation.  It is neither conditional nor a subject of political bargaining or speculation.
 
UNRWA, under its new Commissioner-General, has the duty and obligation to continue to carry out relevant UN resolutions as it did under the previous Commissioner-General, Mr. Peter Hansen.
 
The Right of Return has been exercised, with the support of the international community, in Kosova, Bosnia, East Timor, Ruwanda, Guatemala and many other places.  It is not exercised yet in Palestine because major Western powers sided with Israel against the rights of the Palestinians under international law.  Israel refused to accept the Right of Return since 1948 because it ethnically cleansed Palestine to build Israel on its ruins.  Israel therefore is not, must not be a party to any solution "acceptable to both sides".  Israel must abide by international law or be subject to penalties as applied elsewhere.
 
The Israeli contention that the return of the refugees will "flood" Israel and change its "Jewish character" is both racist and illegal.  The Palestinian refugees have no obligation, neither morally nor in international law, to remain in exile, mostly within just one-hour drive from their homes, while these confiscated homes are flooded with immigrants from all over the world.  There is no concept in international law, or in UN resolution 181, on which Israel based its declaration, for a "Jewish" character.
 
The Right of Return Congress affirms once more the sanctity of the Inalienable Right of Return and the determination of all Palestinian refugees to recover this right.  The duty of the UN, its organs and agencies is to help them achieve this objective.
 
 
10 August 2005

 

 

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