Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the adoption of UNGA Resolution 194 (III). This legal document explicitly states Palestinian refugees’ and internally displaced persons’ inalienable right to reparations, including return to their original homes and villages from which they were displaced as a result of the Nakba between 1947-1949, property restitution, and compensation.
On the anniversary of Resolution 194 (III), the Palestinian people continue to be widely exposed to ongoing forcible displacement while Israel continues to deny Palestinian refugees’ fundamental rights, mainly reparations and return.
This ongoing Nakba is not only the result of Israel’s systematic international crimes and human rights violations. It is also attributed to western powers’ complicity with Israeli colonial-apartheid policies and practices, the lack of international political will to fulfill international responsibilities, and the ineffectiveness of mandated international agencies.
Since 1948, Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have suffered from a lack of international protection. Instead of accessing the protection that they are entitled to, Palestinian refugees and IDPs face unfounded challenges and new obstacles targeting both the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the well-established status of Palestinian refugees under international law.
This year witnessed renewed attempts to eliminate the current status of Palestinian refugees and UNRWA through political manipulation of conditional funding under the guise of anti-terrorism measures. Such attempts aim to de-legitimize the services Palestinian refugees are entitled to and reduce the number of Palestinian refugees receiving services.
These funding conditions, imposed by the USA-UNRWA Framework Agreement, intend to transform UNRWA from a humanitarian agency that provides assistance and relief to a security agency that furthers the security and political agenda of the USA, EU and ultimately Israel. Based on the USA’s own criteria of terrorism, the agreement obligates UNRWA to monitor, report and re-classify who within its mandate is permitted to continue receiving its services. Thereby, the agreement restricts the number of Palestine refugees eligible for receiving services and humanitarian assistance or any form of support from UNRWA to which they are entitled.
The anti-terrorism conditioning set in the Framework Agreement goes in line with the Israeli designation of six Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist entities and with the US and EU allegations of racism, incitement and antisemitism against the Palestinian education curriculum. This is evidenced by the US’ and EU’s attempts to strip the Palestinian education curriculum of any reference that is falsely perceived to discriminate or incite violence against Israel, such as reference to historic Palestine and Palestinian history before the existence of Israel in 1948, the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and the Nakba.
It is thus clear that third party actors continue to ignore the unique Palestinian context and the Palestinian people’s respective right to resist colonization and apartheid. Through such a myopic approach, the international community has provided Israel complete impunity to practice its oppression and crimes under the guise of the so-called “fight against terrorism” and, in turn, drying up the sources of funding and humanitarian aid.
Today, 73 years later, more than 9 million Palestinian refugees and IDPs continue to call for their right of return on the basis that a durable peace and just solution for the protracted conflict is only achievable through enforcing UNGA Resolution 194 of 1948 and UNSC Resolution 237 of 1967.
It is non-negotiable that the right of return is a fundamental prerequisite for the enforcement of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. Accordingly, BADIL and the Global Palestinian Refugee Network (GPRN) calls on the international community to:
- Fulfilling its responsibilities under international law by adopting and supporting durable rightsbased solutions as a long-term strategy for Palestinian refugees and IDPs;
- Ensuring effective protection of Palestinian refugees and for those at risk of forced displacement inside Palestine and in exile;
- Taking effective measures to bring Israel into compliance with international law.
- Rescind its conditional funding to UNRWA and provide core funding so that it can reasonably fulfill its mandate.