A Plan for Shutting Down the UN’s Counterproductive Agency for Palestinian Refugees

Aug. 16 2018

Recently, the presidential adviser Jared Kushner has been working to reform, cut funding for, and possibly dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). This agency, founded in 1950, works independently of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and, unlike that organization, sees its goal as keeping its wardens in a state of permanent refugeehood, rather than arranging for them to find citizenship and employment where they reside. Thus, of the five million people who receive its support, only some 30,000 are refugees by the standard definition; the rest are descendants of refugees. UNRWA also engages in Islamist indoctrination in many of its schools and has collaborated with Hamas in Gaza. Dave Harden writes:

UNRWA primarily provides health, education, and social services; make no mistake, this assistance is life-saving to the most vulnerable. But after 70 years, the structure and incentives have ossified to create welfare dependency. Most Palestinians would prefer the dignity of a state, a job, and the potential of a real future than food-basket deliveries, generation after generation. While one can acknowledge its good work in tough places, UNRWA subsidizes dysfunctionality and an unsustainable status quo in most of the Levant. Here are three suggestions. . . .

First, set a ten-year exit strategy. . . . With an [immediate] UNRWA withdrawal from the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority or, if it collapses, the Israeli government will have to finance health and education for potentially a million people. A ten-year exit requires the parties to begin a purposeful, planned wind-down and, in so doing, will place inevitably severe stress on the status quo.

Second, begin UNRWA’s exit plan in Jordan. . . . Most of the two million Palestinian refugees in Jordan are [already] politically, economically, and socially integrated into the Hashemite kingdom. . . . Third, shift refugee operations in Syria and Lebanon from UNRWA to the UNHCR, which has the mandate to protect refugees and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement to a third country. . . .

Kushner is right to demand a fundamental re-ordering of UNRWA. The UN agency serves as a welfare and humanitarian-relief provider which after 70 years subsidizes despair and continued conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jared Kushner, Palestinian refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA

Iran Is Back on Israel’s Doorstep

Feb. 15 2019

On Monday, the IDF shelled Iranian-linked targets—most likely held by Hizballah—in the Quneitra province, which lies in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. There can thus be little doubt that the Islamic Republic has positioned its proxies in deadly proximity to Israel’s borders. Yossi Yehoshua comments:

Hizballah is trying to entrench itself in Syria now that Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did in 2014 and 2015, [before Syrian rebels retook the area]. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and of planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Mughniyeh was killed in a 2015 airstrike attributed to Israel. . . .

In addition, an increase in the number of incidents along the Syrian border was noted over the past two months, with the Israeli strikes in Syria . . . meant to signal to the enemy that it is best not cross any red lines. This is similar to the message Jerusalem conveyed to Iran when it [previously] attempted to entrench itself in [this part of] Syria and was pushed out of there after a series of Israeli airstrikes.

Unlike the situation of four years ago, Iran now has a real presence along the Syrian border, while Hizballah is working to resume its confrontations with Israel. And since the organization is up to its neck in domestic problems and thus cannot allow itself to face Israel on the Lebanese front, it finds Syria to be a more comfortable staging ground from which to take on the Jewish state.

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More about: Golan Heights, Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria