NNA - Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gebran Bassil, participated in the extraordinary ministerial meeting held in Rome to preserve dignity, share responsibility and mobilize collective action for UNRWA.
Bassil delivered a statement at the meeting in which he said "we have received the people of Palestine in accordance with our humanitarian principles, as we receive the Syrians now, on a temporary basis to stop the killing and secure their return. UNRWA was established to provide their humanitarian needs until the return, and it turned out that killing continues and the goal is to integrate refugees in preparation for the 'big transfer'."
"I will not re-describe what the establishment of the State of Israel has inflicted upon the region and humanity from ravages, wars and Jewish extremism that is still feeding Islamic extremism and Christian oppression. Most recently, the President of a great power decided to grant Jerusalem to Israel forgetting that Jerusalem is ours. (...) Lebanon, which has received 500 thousand Palestinian refugees for 70 years, and 1.5 million Syrians for 7 years, is not here to beg for money, but to demand the legitimate right of people to return to their homeland, and a minimum of assistance to the country itself until that happens, so as to avoid further poverty," Bassil said.
The Minister called upon UNRWA to "remove from their registration lists every Palestinian who is outside the Lebanese territory or has obtained the nationality of another country, in order to alleviate the organization’s financial burdens, on the one hand, and contribute to reducing the number of refugees in Lebanon, on the other hand, without tampering with the right of return, which is sacred.
“If we approach the situation the way the international community is approaching it on the subject of displaced Syrians, we would then call upon the international community itself to organize a campaign of voluntary return of Palestinian refugees, since all the elements for a safe and dignified return are available in the Palestinian case. Double-standard policies are no longer accepted. We must return to the humane conscience to solve the problem of UNRWA and Palestinian refugees."
"Lebanon is a school in humanity and has the highest record of hosting, but it refuses to replicate the experience with the Palestinians on the Syrians," he concluded.
"How can an international community, that is unable to meet its obligations towards UNRWA, ask Lebanon to integrate displaced Syrians while it abolishes the organization that is concerned with Palestinian refugees? It is as though we are told that the same scenario will be repeated: the displaced and refugees remain on our land while promises evaporate, leaving Lebanon alone (to bear the burdens and consequences)," he maintained.