Nikki Haley: Right of Return for Palestinians Should Be Reviewed

Haley with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem. (Photo: Courtesy US Embassy Tel Aviv, Wikimedia Commons)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has suggested the right of return for Palestinian refugees could be removed from any eventual peace settlement with Israel.

Speaking at an event on Tuesday with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington DC-based neoconservative think-tank with pro-Israeli sympathies, Haley was asked whether she agreed with taking the right of return “off the table”.

She said:

“I think we have to look at this in terms of what’s happening [with refugees] in Syria, what’s happening in Venezuela. So I absolutely think we have to look at the right of return.”

Palestinians view the right of return, along with the end of the Israeli occupation, as one of the basic tenants in achieving a peace deal with Israel.

Haley also accused the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) of exaggerating the number of Palestinian refugees it currently provides aid to and services for.

Haley said:

“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 them.”

There are more than five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories and surrounding countries of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

The majority are descendants of the 700,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their villages, towns, and cities by Zionist paramilitaries in 1947-1948.

In response to the refugee crisis, UNRWA was created the following year under UN Resolution 302, which stated its mandate to “prevent conditions of starvation and distress … and to further conditions of peace and stability”.

Since its inception, UNRWA has worked with governments on interim measures in anticipation of a “just resolution” to the Palestinian refugee question.

In January, the United States cut $300m out of $350m in funding for UNRWA, which forced the UN body to slash jobs and scale back its operations, much to the consternation of Palestinian employees and those who rely on its services.

The Donald Trump administration has made no secret of its hostile view of UNRWA. In emails leaked to Foreign Policy magazine earlier this month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, described the agency in January as “corrupt, inefficient, and doesn’t help peace”.

During his visit to Jordan last June, Kushner reportedly pushed for the refugee status of the two million Palestinians registered in the country to be dissolved.

(AJE, PC, Social Media)

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