Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny AyalonIsrael news photo: MFA video screen capture

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called on the United Nations Thursday to end inequality in the treatment of Jewish and Arab refugees.

Ayalon was in Geneva to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

In his address, he called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to end the agency's "morally and politically unacceptable" solution created for the Palestinian context -- a separate agency altogether, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

"While the UNHCR has found durable solutions for tens of millions of refugees, the agency created specifically for the Palestinian context, UNRWA, has found durable solutions for no one," Ayalon told the ministerial meeting.

"This has meant that a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians remains further away. This is morally and politically unacceptable."

Ayalon noted in a video released at a news conference held prior to the meeting that Palestinian refugees are "trapped between Arab leaders unwilling to accept their brothers, and U.N. agencies who do not apply equal and universal principles to all refugees... Why can't the Palestinian refugees share an agency with the refugees of Bosnia, Congo or Darfur? The answer is, because while the United Nation's central refugee agency helps refugees resettle, the United Nations' Palestinian refugee angecy helps perpetuate their satus by applying unique criteria."

Israel's deputy foreign minister also raised the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands who were forced out of their own homes over the past 60 years.

"The refugee issue is a core element towards finding a solution to our conflict and in its broader context would have to address both the Palestinians and the Jewish refugees from Arab lands," Ayalon maintained. "Jewish refugees also require redress."