Since the U.S. government cut its annual funding to UNRWA—the UN agency tasked with caring for Palestinian refugees and their descendants—to $60 million, the organization has been complaining of a financial crisis. While this is surely an exaggeration, Evelyn Gordon hopes the shortfall will encourage UNRWA to drop its insistence that Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza be treated as second-class citizens:
First, UNRWA should stop financing Jordan’s outrageous apartheid system, under which two million Palestinians registered with the agency receive no services from the Jordanian government, even though most (as UNRWA itself admits) are Jordanian citizens. Instead of using Jordan’s health and education systems, they attend special UNRWA schools and health clinics; many even live in ten designated refugee camps.
Clearly, people with citizenship in another country shouldn’t be considered refugees at all. Under the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ definition, which applies to everyone except Palestinians, anyone who obtains citizenship in another country automatically loses his or her refugee status.
But the situation is also unfair to the Palestinians themselves because they are denied the possibility of integrating into the country where they hold citizenship. Nobody can integrate if forced to live in special camps and attend special schools and clinics. . . . [B]eginning a gradual handover of these services to Jordan would save UNRWA money while also helping two million people. . . .
Second, [much] like Jordan, the Palestinian Authority (PA) refuses to provide services to either the 800,000 registered refugees in the West Bank or the 1.3 million in Gaza. In other words, based on the PA’s self-reported population of 4.9 million, it’s refusing to provide services to a whopping 43 percent of the residents of its putative state. These 2.1 million “refugees” live in 27 designated camps. They attend special UNRWA schools and health clinics, instead of the regular Palestinian ones. And senior PA officials have said explicitly that they are not and never will be entitled to citizenship in the Palestinian state.