The UN emissary, Count Folke Bernadotte (1895-1948) arrived in Palestine in May 1948 to mediate a cease fire. The recently proclaimed Israeli government consented to his appointment because, as president of the Swedish Red Cross, he saved 15,000 Jews from the Nazi Camps during WW2. Now in Palestine, having witnessed the expulsion of the Palestinians from their home, he called for the unqualified return of all Palestinian refugees expelled as a result of the conflict. He declared:
“It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine”.
For this, he was assassinated by Jewish underground terrorists on 17 September 1948.
It was partly as a tribute to Count Bernadotte that the UN General Assembly issued its Resolution 194 on 11 December 1948 calling for:
1. Return of all expelled Palestinians (Art. 11)
2. Protection of and free access to the Holy Places (Art. 7)
3. Demilitarization and UN control over Jerusalem (Art. 8)
4. Free access to Jerusalem (Art. 9)
Only the day before, on 10 December 1948, The UN published The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 13 of that Declaration states that every person has the right to return to his/her home. To prevent that person from returning. no matter what the reason for his/her exodus, is a war crime.
The right of the refugees to return to their homes is not only a sacred and legal right, but also a possible one. Studies show that 80% of Jews live on 15% of historic Palestine. The remaining 20% of Jews live on 85% of land that belongs to Palestinians.
The Right of Return is an inalienable right scaredly held by all refugees and entitles them to return at any time to their homes. This Right can never be diminished by the passage of time or by any treaty unless the rfugee himslef/herself, declares otherwise, and forfeits that Right, but under no duress of any kind.
We repeat: The right of return is an inalienable and non-negotiable right. Period.
International Law considers agreements between occupiers and occupied as null and void if they deprive civilians of their right to return to their homes, their right to repatriation and their right to restitution.
Acceptance and implementation of Resolution 194 was made a condition for Israel’s entry into the United Nation. No surprise, then, that the Zionist leadership quickly welcomed it. But Resolution 194 has never been implemented despite its reaffirmation by the UN on more than 130 occasions. Despite this miscarriage of justice, Israel was admitted as a member of the UN on 11 May 1949 “as a peace loving State which accepts the obligations contained in the Charter and is willing to carry out those obligations”. This peace loving State has defied more UN Resolutions than any other member state of the UN.
Resolution 194 remains the major legal foundation on which the Right of Return is based. It states that the General Assembly “resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at their earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return…”
A number of international conventions including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 9, 13 and 30, the UN Resolution 242 passed in 1967 and many others, call on Israel to permit the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes. It must now be forced to do so. Or be expelled from the UN.