REF.: 182 /2011
DATE: 16 MAY 2011
As a human rights organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq welcomes the peaceful initiatives undertaken inside the OPT and in neighbouring countries to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba.
Regretfully, popular mobilisation was met by the harsh repression of the Israeli army, which opened fire against unarmed protestors acting in defiance of its legal obligation to respect human rights law standards while conducting crowd control operations. Al-Haq strongly condemns the excessive use of force used against demonstrators in the Golan Heights, along the Lebanese border and in the OPT that resulted in the death of 15 people and in the injury of nearly two hundred.
The right of the Palestinians displaced by the wars in 1948 and 1967 has been framed by Israeli propaganda as a political claim and continuously disregarded. On the contrary, the right to return of those displaced by a conflict is a well established principle of international law. In particular, the right of Palestinian refugees has been unequivocally reiterated by the Security Council in its unanimously adopted Resolution 237 of 1967.
Since Israel, 63 years later, continues to deny any form of recognition of such a right and the international community of States remains complacent, Palestinians yesterday decided to take the first steps to return home. The initiatives in commemoration of the Nakba have been encouraged by the renewed political scenario at regional level; they represent the steadfast willingness of people to take a proactive role in demanding respect for their rights without relying on the endeavours of their political representatives. The Arab awakening is now reaching the OPT and drawing Palestinians from across the region to the streets. The fate of two-thirds of the worldwide Palestinian population displaced from their homes lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of the meaningful exercise of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
Therefore, Al-Haq calls upon Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law by reconising the right of the Palestinians displaced by the 1948 and 1967 wars and providing reparations to victims of displacement. Concurrently, the international community of States must put an end to the continuous displacement of Palestinians and ensure that the right of return is not relegated to the realm of politics any longer. The implementation of relevant UN Resolutions recognising the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the right of return of refugees, such as General Assembly Resolution 194, cannot be further delayed.
Unlike what David Ben-Gurion stated in 1948 – “We must do everything to ensure they never return. The old will die and the young will forget” – recent events have proven him wrong: the young will not forget. A just and durable peace in the region cannot be conceived while denying the recognition of the right of return of Palestinian refugees as this is a crucial component of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
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