Palestinian Affairs

Gaza Rally for “Right of Return” Attended by UN Official

Last week on “Nakba Day,” the Palestinian commemoration of the disaster that was the founding of Israel, a group of children addressed a press conference at the Palestinian Ministry of Culture in Gaza. The children at the press conference “handed a letter in English and Arabic to the UN representative in Gaza” who was in attendance.

At the event, the children expressed their opposition to any compromise with Israel.

Right of return is not subject to any statute of limitation, as it is a personal right that stems from the sanctity of the private property of the refugee according to which Jews had restored their confiscated properties after the Second World War, the children said.

It is an individual and collective right that could not be waived for any reason at any agreement or convention, they added.

The claim that the so-called right of return is an individual right that cannot be revoked is the position taken by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the recently suspended American-sponsored peace talks with Israel. Abbas’s hardline stance on the right of return was a major stumbling block preventing any progress.

The idea that no compromise is possible on the right of return follows from a premise that the Palestinians were unjust victims of Israeli aggression. But as Israeli scholar Shlomo Avineri recently pointed out, that is a selective reading of history. The Nakba, Avineri writes, “was the tragic result of an Arab political decision to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in the portion of the Land of Israel that had been under the British Mandate.”

The presence of a United Nations official attending without protest an event effectively calling for an end to the state of Israel is troubling, but not surprising. In The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis, appearing in the May 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Asaf Romirowsky documents how the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) perpetuates and exacerbates the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

[Photo: Alan Mayers / Flickr ]