Head of the Negotiations Department at the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Saeb Erekat, said that the statements of UNRWA New York director, Andrew Whitley, regarding the Palestinian Right of Return are disappointing. Whitley said that the Palestinians “should not live under the illusion of achieving the Right of Return”, and added that Arab countries must start procedures for settling them in the Arab world.

Dr. Erekat sent a letter to Whitley expressing Palestinian rejection of these statements particularly since they deny an internationally guaranteed right.

The UNRWA clarified that the statements of Whitley do not represent its official stance.

Meanwhile, Dr. Erekat added that the Palestinians did not, and will not, abandon their right to return to their homeland, reminding that in 1948 Israel forced more than 700,000 Palestinians out of their homes and lands.

He also said that the refugees, now more than 4.5 million, will remain steadfast especially since their right was approved by the international community and several U.N. resolutions, including resolution number 194.

“Mr. Whitley should have defended the legitimate right of the refugees, instead of accepting the harm inflicted on them”, Erekat continued. “Those rights are guaranteed under the international law; they should be achieved, not abandoned or denied”.