The Islamic Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, has condemned a comment by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis about the Palestinians' right to return. The movement said that it was "shocked" to hear Cassis describe the legitimate return of all Palestinian refugees as an "unrealistic dream" in a comment about the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
According to the minister, "UNRWA poses a problem by holding an unrealistic dream about the return of all refugees." The question, he said, is whether UNRWA is part of the solution or the problem. "It has long worked as a solution but now it is part of the problem, it is securing the ammunition needed for the continuation of the conflict. As long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they will remain wanting to return to their homeland."
Hamas denounced what it called the Swiss minister's "disgraceful remarks" and demanded that the government of Switzerland should issue an apology to the people of Palestine.
"We reiterate our support for UNRWA and the need to enable it to continue its work mandated by the international community for the relief and employment of Palestinian refugees," the movement said. "We affirm to all that the adherence of our people to their rights, foremost of which is the return to their land, is not linked to the existence of the camps or the continuation of the Agency's work."
The right to return to their homeland, Hamas pointed out, is one to be upheld for all refugees, regardless of where they are or their country of origin. Palestinian refugees are no different, it insisted, and their right to return has been reaffirmed in numerous UN Resolutions over the decades since the 1948 ethnic cleansing of their land. "Furthermore," added Hamas, "it is an individual and collective right."