Monday, May 23, 2011

Francis Boyle, Int'l Law Prof.: U.S. Has in Past Invoked Reso. 194, Mandating Right of Return
Nakba Day, or the day of the catastrophe, marks the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel 63 years ago.

In order to give a legal insight into the status of Palestinian refugees, Press TV interviews Francis Boyle who is a Professor of International Law in Illinois. What follows is a transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Lebanon has this week called for action from the UN regarding the Palestinians shot at its border on Nakba Day. How should the UN be responding to these Israeli attacks on unarmed demonstrators?

Boyle: This clearly violates Israel's obligations under the international law on civil and political rights, the basic human right to life itself as recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You simply cannot shoot dead unarmed protesters at a border in someone else's sovereign territory. Whether the UN will do anything about it, I cannot say I am terribly optimistic. Israel has been shooting dead Palestinians like dogs in the streets for decades and the United Nations has so far refused to do anything about it that I am aware of.

Press TV: What are the legal statuses of Palestinians trying to return home? I mean if you are from a Lebanese refugee camp and you go to a place that Israel considers its borders, are you Palestinian or are you Lebanese? I mean what is your right under international law?

Boyle: Well, the Palestinian National Council created the Palestinian state on November 15, 1988. So in the Declaration of Independence that I helped the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) with, we set it up so that all Palestinians living anywhere in the world would automatically become citizens of the state of Palestine irrespective of whatever other nationality or residence they might have in such a way so that they would not lose any other nationality or residence that they have.

So technically, that is where it stands now. I would hope that if and when the Palestinians apply for membership in the United Nations and the votes are there for Palestine's admission, this will finally become recognized by the entire world.

Press TV: Israel's greatest fear is this movement for the return of the refugees and their families driven out in 1948. The hope was, as stated by several Israeli leaders, that the old will die and the young will forget. But legally this right of return is the sticking point. Are any legal minds working on the basis of a legal right of return?

Boyle: Yes, Israel accepted the Palestinian right of return in resolution 194 as a condition for its membership in the United Nations and I just wrote a new book on this issue if you are interested you can get it at Amazon. It is called The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law. So nothing could be clear that the Palestinians have this right.

Indeed, when I was legal advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations under my client, the late great doctor Haider Abdel Shafi, even US Secretary of State James Baker instructed his press spokesperson, Margaret Tutwiler, to publically invoke resolution 194 which she did. To the best of my knowledge, that is the last time the United States government officially invoked and relied upon and asserted the authority of resolution 194. However, yesterday in his speech, President Obama unfortunately continued to delay and postpone the right of return for Palestinians.

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