London, 19 May 2018
The London-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) has followed, with deep concern, the statements recently released by the Swiss Foreign Ignazio Cassis regarding the role played by the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
PRC is extremely shocked by Cassis’s statements, in which he said the UN agency for Palestinian refugees is fuelling "unrealistic" hopes of return after 70 years of exodus and is therefore helping keep the Mideast conflict alive.
"It is unrealistic that this dream (of return) will be fulfilled for all," he said in an interview given to several German-language papers owned by the Swiss NZZ group and published on Thursday.
PRC condemns, in the strongest terms, the Swiss diplomat’s statements, which contravene international laws and resolutions guaranteeing Palestinians’ inalienable right of return to their motherland—Palestine.
PRC believes Cassis’s remarks stand is sharp contrast to international resolutions, particularly General Assembly Resolution 194, which enjoys sustained, universal and overwhelming consensus, having been confirmed more than 100 times in the last 50 years.
Cassis’s unilaterally pro-Israel statements are at odds with the universal tide of condemnations and widespread protests sparked by Israel’s unwarranted use of armed force against civilians at the border with the besieged Gaza Strip.
The biased statements by the Swiss minister represent a digression from Switzerland’s historically neutral position and run counter to the UNHRC’s resolution of May 18, 2018 demanding an independent probe into Israel’s crimes at the Gaza border.
PRC calls on the Swiss government to account for such unilateral comments and to immediately remove them at a time when dozens of Palestinians have been massacred in cold-blood by the Israeli military.
PRC will send a memorandum to Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry, as the first step in a chain of protest moves triggered by the one-sided statements.
PRC appeals to the international community, Arab and Islamic governments, and the UN Member-States to take urgent diplomatic action in favor of UNRWA and in response to Israel’s oppressive policies against the Palestinians and infringement of the refugees’ right of return.
The Swizz diplomat’s comments came after a month and a half of mass protests and fierce clashes along the Gaza border, calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their homes which have been occupied by Israel.
The largest demonstrations flared up on the day the US moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Occupied Jerusalem on Monday, which saw Israeli forces kill some 65 Palestinians, pushing the overall toll well over 100.
UNRWA is meanwhile struggling to cover a massive budget shortfall, after major donor Washington slashed its 2018 funding.