The Great Palestinian Refugee Racket

Since its inception, as many have pointed out, the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has considered “refugees” not just Arabs who fled Israel during its War of Independence but also their descendants, thus deviating from the standard definition of the term used by the UN itself and international law more generally. UNRWA, which tends exclusively to Palestinian refugees while those of all other nationalities are the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner’s Office of Refugees (UNHCR), also insists on keeping its charges in a permanent state of refugeedom, often in “camps,” rather than integrating them into the countries where they have settled as is normal international practice. And these, writes Efraim Karsh, are only some of the special liberties taken when determining who is a Palestinian refugee:

The notion of refugees and displaced persons has been invariably equated with unprovoked victimhood. . . . Members of aggressing parties, including innocent civilians victimized as a result of their [own] governments’ aggression, have been viewed as culprits, undeserving of humanitarian international support.

Thus, for example, not only did the constitution of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) [the precursor to the UNHCR] deny refugee status to the millions of “persons of ethnic German origins” driven from their homes in the wake of World War II—thereby forcing West (and East) Germany to resettle them in their territories at their own expense—but it also singled out persons who had “voluntarily assisted the enemy forces since the outbreak of the [war] in their operations against the United Nations.” Moreover, it stipulated that Germany and Japan should pay, “to the extent practicable,” for repatriating the millions of people displaced as a result of their wartime aggression. . . .

In contrast, the Palestinians and the Arab states have never been penalized for their “war of extermination and momentous massacre,” to use the words of Arab League secretary-general Abdul Rahman Azzam, against the nascent state of Israel. . . . This unprovoked war of aggression should have ipso facto precluded the Palestinians from refugee status, should have obliged them to compensate their Jewish and Israeli victims, and should have made their rehabilitation incumbent upon their own leaders and the Arab regimes as with post-World War II Germany and collaborating parties. However, it did not. In addition, their designation as refugees also failed to satisfy the internationally accepted definition of this status in several other key respects. . . .

[Furthermore], 280,000 escapees in the West Bank, alongside 88,000 who had fled to Transjordan (east of the Jordan River)—i.e., a total of 368,000, more than 60 percent of those who had fled their homes during the war—became Jordanian citizens even before the area’s official annexation to the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. This, on its own, should have disqualified them for refugee status, as both the IRO constitution and the 1951 convention [on refugees] unequivocally deny this status and its attendant benefits to any refugee who “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.” . . . Even less deserving of refugee status are the Palestinians who moved from the West Bank of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan to its eastern bank during the June 1967 war.

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More about: International Law, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, World War II

 

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war