Mike Pompeo Rejects One of the Myths of the Palestinian Refugees

Jan. 19 2021

Since the beginning of the year, the outgoing secretary of state has been using his Twitter account to tout his department’s various accomplishments during his tenure. Among these, notes Jimmy Quinn, lay an important statement explaining the 2018 decision to cease funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA): “it’s estimated [that less than] 200,000 Arabs displaced in 1948 are still alive and most others are not refugees.” Quinn explains:

UNRWA serves Palestinian refugees exclusively—it says that there are 5.8 million of them in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and “Palestine”—and it’s the only organization within the UN system that focuses on a specific set of refugees. (All other refugee groups are handled by the UN high commissioner for refugees.) It’s a testament to the UN’s single-minded obsession with criticizing Israel.

The UN’s inflated statistic comes from the fact that it counts as a refugee anyone with a paternal ancestor who fled the territory of Mandatory Palestine in 1947 or 1948, whereas when dealing with any other conflict, neither the UN nor international law consider refugee status heritable. Quinn continues:

[Thus] the U.S. government’s estimate, as the outgoing secretary of state notes, is that the actual number of refugees is less than 200,000. . . . And despite what skeptics of the current administration’s foreign policy may think, this isn’t a Trump-era fabrication. In fact, the figure appears to come from a report completed during the Obama administration that has remained classified in the years since.

To a domestic audience, this figure will play a role in the future debate over U.S. support for UNRWA, which is facing a significant budget shortfall. Before the Trump administration cut off funding for the agency, the United States [contributed] about a quarter of its budget. With a new president set to take office, there could well be a return to the status quo. . . . The disclosure of the number of people that can truly be considered refugees should make anyone think twice.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Mike Pompeo, Palestinian refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform