The State Department opposed a Senate amendment restricting the number of Palestinians who qualify as "refugees." Deeming that one can not interfere in a decision that belong exclusively to Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, in a letter dated 24 May 2012, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides makes reference to the existence of about 5 million Palestinian refugees assisted by UNRWA.
In so doing, the State Department has broken a taboo that lasted sixty four years! It acknowledges that, in the absence of a resolution to the Palestine problem, refugee status does not apply only to those Palestinians expelled from their homes in 1948 (about 750,000) and 1967, but also to their descendants with no generational limits.
Simply put, the Obama administration recognizes that 5 million Palestinians have the inalienable right to return as defined by international law, a clarification which is intended to put pressure on the Netanyahu government.