What a generous country we are. We’re sending $85 million to the Palestinian “refugees” in the West Bank and Gaza, the State Department announces.
Through this contribution to the Emergency Appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian refugees, who comprise 70 percent of the population in Gaza and 30 percent in the West Bank, will receive urgently needed food, medicines, and other critical humanitarian assistance. The contribution to UNRWA’s General Fund will support the provision of basic and vocational education, primary health care, and relief and social services to more than 4.6 million registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
And why do these “refugees,” many of whom live in regular villages and towns, need all this aid? Why don’t they act like normal people and create an economy and earn a living? Because their leaders insist they remain “refugees,” dependent on the UN and donor countries for their livelihoods. Actually, many of them, especially in the West Bank, do work and even commute to Israel. After forty-plus years of this nonsense, you’d think the Palestinians would realize who their real oppressors are, and it’s not Israel. The press release goes on:
The United States reiterates its deep concern about the escalating violence in Gaza and commends UNRWA’s important work meeting the emergency needs of civilians in Gaza at this very difficult time. We hold Hamas fully responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence. We call on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, by facilitating necessary access into Gaza for UNRWA and other humanitarian organizations.
Note the sentence I put in boldface. Now who would block access into Gaza for humanitarian aid? It’s not Israel, which is sending its own humanitarian aid. So it must be Hamas, whose motive is always propaganda and never concern for the people of Gaza. There’s hunger? Great — get CNN to film the pathetic people. Injured civilians? Don’t let them cross the border to get treated in Israel; that might make Israel look good in the eyes of the world. These beleaguered civilians are the very people who elected Hamas in an outburst of such stupidity that even they must be realizing it. Continuing…
The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, and contributed $184.68 million to UNRWA towards its 2008 Appeals, including $99.87 million for UNRWA’s General Fund and $84.81 million for its emergency appeals for Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The United States plans to provide additional funding for UNRWA’s 2009 appeals in the future.
This is a good moment to review what UNRWA is and does — what our tax money is paying for. As we reported last May, quoting the Jerusalem Post,
In contrast to the main UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which assists and resettles refugees from around the world and has an international team of around 6,300 employees, more than 99 percent of UNRWA’s 25,000-strong staff members are locally recruited Palestinians – almost all of them Palestinian refugees or their descendants, and some of them members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups both the US and the EU classify as terror organizations.
UNRWA, which operated on a cash budget of $487 million in 2007 – excluding special appeals for additional funding – receives most of its money from the US, European Commission, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Four years ago, amid persistent reports that the group was turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism, then-UNRWA commissioner-general Peter Hansen publicly admitted for the first time that Hamas members were on the UNRWA payroll.
Unlike the main refugee agency, whose mission is to find homes for refugees, UNRWA’s mission seems to be to keep the Palestinian “refugees” in squalor so that Israel can be blamed for their condition. These are also the only refugees with hereditary status — if you’re a refugee your children and grandchilden and descendants in perpetuity are also refugees. In another post in May I quoted a report from the Gloria Center (Global Research in International Affairs) which proposed these solutions:
First, UNRWA should be dissolved.
Second, all services it provides should be transferred to other agencies within the UN, notably the UNHCR, which has a long and productive experience in this area.
Third, responsibility for normal social services should be turned over to the Palestinian Authority. Most UNRWA staff should be transferred to it. Donors should use the maximum amount of oversight to ensure this be done effectively.
People often wonder why violence and instability persists and why the Arab-Israeli conflict is so seemingly impossible to resolve. One important part of the answer is that UNRWA perpetuates the problem. All those seeking real progress toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians need to take a close look at this unacceptable situation. All those with responsibility for the management of these issues need to work for a change of course.
It is quite likely that without UNRWA there would have been no shelling of Israel by Hamas, and therefore no Israeli military action in Gaza right now.