Israel’s refusal to grant Palestinian refugees the right to return has fuelled seven decades of suffering, international rights group Amnesty International said in a statement released today.
Marking Nakba Day, when Palestinians remember the ethnic cleansing conducted by Israeli forces in 1948, Amnesty urged Israeli authorities to respect the Palestinians’ right of return.
“Israel’s failure to respect the right to return for Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes in 1948 is a flagrant violation of international law that has fuelled decades of suffering on a mass scale for Palestinian refugees across the region,” said Amnesty.
“More than 70 years after the conflict that followed Israel’s creation, the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes and dispossessed of their land as a result continue to face the devastating consequences,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“This weekend almost 200 million people will tune in to watch the Eurovision song contest in Israel, but, behind the glitz and glamour, few will be thinking of Israel’s role in fuelling seven decades of misery for Palestinian refugees,” he added.
There can be no lasting solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis until Israel respects Palestinian refugees’ right to return.
“In the meantime, Lebanese and Jordanian authorities must do everything in their power to minimize the suffering of Palestinian refugees by repealing discriminatory laws and removing obstacles blocking refugees’ access to employment and essential services.”
Amnesty noted that “there are currently more than 5.2 million registered Palestinian refugees”, the vast majority of whom “live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)”.
“Israel has failed to recognize their right under international law to return to homes where they or their families once lived in Israel or the OPT. At the same, they have never received compensation for the loss of their land and property,” Amnesty stated.
“Many have been forced to live their entire lives in overcrowded camps in dire conditions and are denied access to essential services.”
“The situation for Palestinian refugees is untenable and grows closer to breaking point with every year that passes. How much longer can Palestinian refugees be expected to be condemned to a life of suffering, deprivation and discrimination simply because of their origin?” said Philip Luther.