by: Ben-Dror Yemini
Monday, 16 December 2019 | The Palestinian Authority [PA] and Hamas had a good reason to celebrate last Friday.
On that day, the United Nations [UN] decided to extend the mandate for its agency for Palestinian refugees—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA]—for three more years.
The decision to do so didn’t pass by a narrow majority, but received almost unanimous support from the entire assembly, with 169 countries voting in favor, 9 abstaining and 2—Israel and the US—voting against.
This vote, if given closer inspection, is more of a Pyrrhic victory than anything else.
UNRWA was created 70 years ago in December 1949, merely 5 days after the creation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
At its founding, the term by which the agency went by defined 711,000 Palestinians as refugees. Today, following certain changes to said definition in order to include the descendants of those Palestinians, the refugees are numbered at around 5.5 million.
Why was there a need for a second agency? Because the Arab leadership at that time wanted only one thing: to use the plight of the refugees to combat the existence of Israel. And who is paying the price for this decision? The refugees, whose plight has become an open wound.
The enormous budgets received by UNRWA could have built every refugee family a mansion for rehabilitation purposes and founded industries and economic infrastructure for their betterment.
More than 60 million people escaped or were run out of their homes during the first half of the 20th century as a result of conflicts and the foundation of nation states.
The transfer and exchange of various populations was sadly the norm of the time.
There was also a Jewish “Nakba” (the term used by the Palestinians to denote the “catastrophe” of the exodus following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948).
Some 850,000 Jews left or were expelled from Arab countries, with their possessions being confiscated. None of them or their offspring are considered refugees today in any official capacity. Only the Palestinian refugees are given this title.
The only institution promulgating this idea of “the Palestinian right of return” is UNRWA, a right not appearing in any international law.
There are not 5.5 million Palestinian refugees, it’s a hoax.
Lebanon, for example, says that there are only 475,000 Palestinian refugees.
A 2017 census in Lebanon found there are just 174,000 Palestinian refugees living there, all of whom suffer from what could be described as apartheid.
In Jordan, they are given citizenship, which according to UNRWA, negates their refugee status.
So there is a general definition for most refugees and a special one just for Palestinians.
The solution to the Palestinian issue should be the same as the one provided for them since 1949: rehabilitation where they are located.
There is no need to dismantle UNRWA immediately. There is a need for a three- to five-year plan that will grant citizenship for the Palestinians living in the Arab countries, with budgets given to them in order to assimilate.
The rest of them, however many they actually are, will be treated directly by the UNHCR.
Facebook has decided to donate money to UNRWA. Someone should tell Mark Zuckerberg that UNRWA issued schoolbooks that are filled with anti-Semitism, providing hate instead of welfare.
The UN’s decision to prolong the mandate is a decision for agitation and the commemoration of suffering and strife.
This is not a way to solve the Nakba.
Posted on December 16, 2019
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