Dismantling UNRWA Can Help Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

June 14 2017

On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu publicly advocated the shuttering of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), created in 1949 to tend to Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war. The prime minister was responding to the recent discovery of a Hamas military tunnel underneath an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip—the most recent example of the organization’s facilities being used for terrorist purposes. But, writes Dore Gold, the problem goes much deeper:

Unlike the millions of refugees after World War II, who were resettled in the countries in which they now resided and became citizens, the Palestinian-Arab refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war maintained their refugee status. . . .

Successful refugee programs, like that of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have led to a diminution of the refugee problem in different parts of the world. UNRWA has had the exact opposite effect. The heart of UNWRA’s problem is definitional. . . . Unlike other UN refugee agencies, . . . UNRWA added “the descendants of Palestine refugee males” [to its mandate]. . . . UNRWA has now reached the fourth generation of refugees. . . .

There are 58 Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East. With the implementation of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, 26 of these camps fell under Palestinian control. Yet there was no indication that a single Palestinian camp was about to be closed. It was clear that the Palestinian Authority wanted these camps to be retained . . . to keep their grievance with Israel alive. In other words, they wanted to perpetuate the conflict. . . .

[T]he Palestinians’ preparedness to . . . resolve this issue is probably the best litmus test of their intentions—of whether they are ready to end the conflict once and for all. If a new peace initiative is to start, it should include at the outset a program to dismantle the refugee camps and promote a massive international effort for the construction of new housing. This initiative should begin in the West Bank but also should include Jordan, which hosts the largest Palestinian refugee population in the world.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian refugees, UNRWA


A Lesson from Moshe Dayan for Israel’s Syria Policy

Dec. 11 2019

In the 1950s, Jerusalem tasked Moshe Dayan with combating the Palestinian guerrillas—known as fedayeen—who infiltrated Israel’s borders from Sinai, Gaza, and Jordan to attack soldiers or civilians and destroy crops. When simple retaliation, although tactically effective, proved insufficient to deter further attacks, Dayan developed a more sophisticated long-term strategy of using attrition to Israel’s advantage. Gershon Hacohen argues that the Jewish state can learn much from Dayan’s approach in combating the Iranian presence in Syria—especially since the IDF cannot simply launch an all-out offensive to clear Syria of Iranian forces:

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Moshe Dayan, Palestinian terror, Syria