Ashrawi urges world to address Palestinian refugee situation 22Jun12 June 22, 2012

Ma’an News Agency  -  21 June 2012

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday called on the international community to hold Israel to account for the situation of Palestinian refugees.

“Our refugees’ only hope of return is through international law and intervention to bring about a just solution,” Ashrawi said in a statement marking World Refugee Day.

The lawmaker called on the Middle East Quartet and world powers to “hold Israel accountable for the creation and continuation of the tragic refugee situation, and to demand that Israel abide by international law which calls for the right of return and reparations.”

She continued: “Close to six million Palestinians have individual stories to tell, one for each of our refugees. And their collective narrative forms the basis for any resolution based on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.”

Passed towards the end of the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Resolution 194 called for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes. Israel consented to the resolution, but has since rejected any proposals for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees in Israel.

Ashrawi singled out the United States in particular, where lawmakers in the Senate Appropriations Committee are attempting to redefine refugees in order to exclude descendants of those who were expelled in previous generations.

“This must be seen for what it is, a cynical and cruel manipulation of human suffering to relieve Israel of its moral and legal responsibility to the Palestinian people as outlined in the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,” the lawmaker said.

The 1951 Geneva Convention outlined the rights of refugees and their host countries’ responsibilities.

“Israel must not go unchallenged in its attempts to portray our people’s loss as anything other than a violent mass expulsion,” Ashrawi added.

World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness about the situation of refugees.

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