UNRWA's Whitley apologizes for 'right of return' comments

04-11-2010 12:00 AM

Ammon News - AMMAN- UNRWA New York Director Andrew Whitley apologized and retracted his "inappropriate and wrong" comments on the right of return.

He reiterated in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Petra, that the comments he made don't represent the views of UNRWA.

In his October 22 remarks, made at the National Council on US-Arab Relations in Washington, Whitley said that Palestinian refugees should abandon the hope that they will be granted a right to return and that Arab countries should look for places to resettle them.

Jordan on Thursday fully rejected the remarks made by Whitley on Palestinian refugees' right of return.

In his letter of apology presented to the UNRWA, Whitley said "I am writing following my realisation – from media reports, statements and letters from individuals, organisations and governments – that part of the remarks I delivered at a conference in Washington hosted by the National Council on US – Arab Relations, on 22 October, 2010, were inappropriate and wrong. Those remarks did not represent UNRWA’s views." He expressed his sincere regrets and apologies over any harm that his words might have done to the cause of the Palestine refugees and for any offence he might have caused.

"I have spent much of my long career working for the Palestinian people, and defending their rights, in different professional capacities. It is definitely not my belief that the refugees should give up on their basic rights, including the right of return," he added.

UNRWA's Commissioner General Filippo Grandi earlier said that Whitley will no longer serve as UNRWA New York Director as of early next year.

* Petra

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