Haley: US to Work With UNRWA Again When Refugee Numbers are Corrected
JNS.org – US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared to put into doubt the Palestinian claims of a “right of return” to land inside the State of Israel, agreeing that the issue should be “off the table.”
Speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, she responded to questions, saying, “I absolutely think we have to look at right of return.”
When asked whether the “right of return” applies to Palestinians whose recent ancestors fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, Haley said, “I do agree with that, and I think we have to look at this in terms of what’s happening [with refugees] in Syria, what’s happening in Venezuela.”
She confirmed that the United States had cut the budget to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, by more than 82 percent, adding, “We will be a donor if it [UNRWA] reforms what it does … if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering [with] them.”
UNRWA claims a number of 5 million Palestinian refugees, including in that figure every descendant of Arabs who fled Israel during Israel’s War of Independence. However, international law states that refugee status cannot be passed down to descendants, meaning that only the original 750,000 refugees of 70 years ago can be legally defined as refugees.
Several days ago, Israel’s Hadashot news reported that the Trump administration would officially refute a Palestinian “right of return.” The White House offered no comment.