The truth about UNRWA

By Ted Belman (written  in 2019)

Not all refugees are the same.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), created in 1951, is dedicated to the resettlement of all refugees except the Palestinian refugees, who fall within the purview of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

According to UNHCR, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home because of persecution, war or violence and who crosses an international border.

UNRWA, on the other hand, defines a Palestinian refugee as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict, and their descendants.”

Unlike UNHCR, UNRWA does not seek to resettle its refugees, but rather is dedicated to preserving their status as “refugees”. In addition, it includes their descendants which UNCHR doesn’t. Finally, they need not have been “forced to flee”.

In August 2017, Pres Trump challenged UNRWA by rejecting UNRWA’s estimate of over 5 million refugees suggesting that the number was more like 500,000. In effect he was saying that a new definition should be operative. If he was to exclude descendants, there would be less that 20,000 people still living who fled in 1948

On Aug 31, 2018, The State Department announced that the US would make no further contribution to UNRWA. Therefore the pressure will build to find an alternate solution.

In 1920, the British Government’s Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine stated that there were hardly 700,000 people living in Palestine. By 1948, the population had risen to 1,900,000, of whom 68% were Arabs, and 32% were Jews (UNSCOP report, including Bedouin).

This population growth took place under the Palestine Mandate pursuant to which, Great Britain was responsible to “facilitate Jewish immigration” in line with the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.

Rather than doing so, she hindered it, while at the same time, she encouraged Arab immigration. She went so far as to prevent Jewish immigration, even during the Holocaust, when it was desperately needed.

The end result was that the Jews in Israel in 1948, were millions fewer in number than would otherwise have been the case and the Arabs were far greater in number than they should have been.

This great injustice to the Jews must be born in mind when crafting the Deal of the Century.

The vast majority of the Arab inhabitants of Mandatory Palestine in 1948 were economic migrants who entered Palestine illegally right up until the War of Independence in 1948.

The vast majority of Arabs who fled Israel or remained West of the Jordan River were illegal migrants and their children.

Joan Peters, after considerable research, made this case in her opus, From Time Immemorial.

Daniel Pipes, in his 1984 review of her book, wrote “In the course of research on this subject, she came across a “seemingly casual” discrepancy between the standard definition of a refugee and the definition used for the Palestinian Arabs. In other cases, a refugee is someone forced to leave a permanent or habitual home.  In this case, however, it is someone who had lived in Palestine for just two years before the flight that began in 1948.”

Had the standard definition been used, there would have been few refugees to deal with. Furthermore, by rejecting the standard definition, the Arabs who didn’t flee, who are registered as refugees under UNRWA, now number 2 million west of the Jordan River and 1.3 million in Gaza.

In 1948, though living in Palestine, they considered their home of origin to be Syria, in the main, but including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

Not only were their numbers greatly inflated due to this new definition, but the Arab League prevented their naturalization in the countries they fled to, including their true countries of origin. Furthermore, the Arabs living outside of Israel as defined by the 1949 ceasefire line, yet still within the Mandatory lands, were also prevented from being naturalized.  This applies to Jordan also where there are currently 2 million registered Palestinian “refugees”.

Pipes concludes his review by stating “Thus, the “Palestinian problem” lacks firm grounding. Many of those who now consider themselves Palestinian refugees were either immigrants themselves before 1948 or the children of immigrants. This historical fact reduces their claim to the land of Israel; it also reinforces the point that the real problem in the Middle East has little to do with Palestinian-Arab rights.”

It is now 34 years after Pipes wrote his review. Like it or not, these Palestinian Arabs have put down roots making it more problematic to dispossess them. But one thing must be kept in mind. The reason that they consider themselves to be refugees is because they all claim the right of return to Israel as currently delineated. The corollary to this is that they do not claim the right to stay where they are. They can’t have it both ways.

Since Israel will not permit them to return, whether to Israel as it now stands or to Israel when its eastern boundary is extended to the Jordan River, the best option open to them is to relocate them in Jordan. Because Jordan was part of Mandatory Palestine, to which they originally migrated, these people should be considered as internally displaced persons (IDP) who fled their residences but never crossed an international border.

King Abdullah is dead set against this but his days as king are numbered. When Mudar Zahran, the Secretary General of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition, becomes the leader of Jordan in the not too distant future, he will invite all these Palestinians to relocate in Jordan where they will be naturalized along with the 2 million “refugees” already there. In addition, over 75% of Jordan’s population of 9.7 million are Palestinian.

According to Zahran, they will be provided with housing, jobs and social security.

In my article International Law and the State of Israel, I discuss the issue of population transfer and its legitimacy.

“After WWII and the crushing defeat of Germany and its allies, the victors changed borders and moved populations. It was their right.

Der Spiegel reported;

“But the people fleeing the Red Army were unaware that the Allies had already agreed with the Polish government-in-exile to hand over large parts of eastern Germany to Poland and resettle the Germans who were living there.

“All those who didn’t manage to escape in time fell victim to the frenzied expulsions that were carried out until July 1945. The organized resettlement of Germans and ethnic Germans from Germany’s former eastern areas and the Sudetenland began in January 1946. In all, some 14 million Germans lost their homes.”

“These expulsions were often done in a brutal manner and were carried out as part of a broader program of nation-building pursued by the new communist government between 1945 and 1949. “The centre-piece of this programme was an attempt to achieve the ethnic homogenization of the state, to ensure as close a match as possible between its ethnic and political borders.”

At no time did the allies object to this “ethnic homogenization”.

The flight of the Arabs from the Palestine Mandate and Israel, whether voluntary or forced, must be viewed in this context. It happened at the same time. The hypocrisy of the West is glaring. In post war Europe, they insisted on the ethnic cleansing as the path to stabilization and peace whereas in the case of the “Palestinian refugees”, the UNGA passed Res 194 in Dec 11/48 even before the war was over in which they recommended that the “Refugees” should be permitted to return. Fortunately for Israel, a recommendation has no binding affect and can be ignored.

President Trump, in configuring his Deal of the Century, should embrace the idea of ethnic homogenization as fundamental to establishing peace and assist in the relocation of as many Arabs as possible to Jordan which will be considered the Palestinian State. There can be no objection to him doing so because of Zahran’s intention to provide them with housing, jobs and social security. Besides, no one is suggesting that they should be forcibly expelled. Instead they should be induced to relocate or emigrate of their own free will. It will be for their benefit.

February 25, 2019 | 11 Comments »

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11 Comments / 11 Comments

  1. @Peloni, I agree with your comment about Biden Administration motivation as a correct addition to my comment. You are more on point!

  2. @Bear
    Your comments on UNWRA are well described.

    The one point I differ with you here is the motivation for the reversal is not due to Trump nihilism, if I am interpreting your comment correctly. The current administration is quite intent upon their previous standards in Israel and elsewhere and their motives are to return Israel to its previously precarious position of tangential threats from every angle and a return of state run terrorism in the Middle East in general by empowering Iran. Trump undermined this prior status quo in the Middle East which had been carefully set in place over decades to the great consternation of those responsible for enabling these facts to exist in the first place. Reversing these policies back to the pre-2016 standard was and remains fundamental to their goals in the Middle East and elsewhere, and not due to Trump’s role in changing them.

  3. UNRWA is a plague as it simply is just a cover up to get funding to help destroy Israel. It does nothing but perpetuate Pal-Arabs life as second class residents in locals. Trump was correct when he de-funded it.

    Biden predictably since he has tried to reverse everything Trump did is now funding this Pal-Arab racist organization that perpetuates the conflict. Getting rid of UNRWA is just one step that needs to be taken to try and resolve the Israeli Arab problem.

  4. @Ted

    Another excellent analysis, though given the unfortunate paths that have come to be unfolded in the past three years, a great deal of advantage was left untapped. This does, of course, mean that the advantage lost in that time might still be pursued in our near or distant future (hopefully near).

    The phrase ‘Palestinian Arabs’ as describing the Arabs on the Israeli side of the Jordan has always riled my senses. Prior to the end of the Mandate era, there were Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. The very purpose of creating the state of Trans-Jordan, later Jordan, was to give the Palestinian Arabs a very large chunk of the Palestinian pie, as it were, to call their own and have their own homeland. In doing so, there was no need for Arabs to be either hosted as citizens nor for them to derive a second Arab state from the Jewish portion, already greatly reduced from the whole.

    For those Arabs now claiming to be descendants of the Palestinian Arabs from the Mandate era, they have a state already created in their interest, such as it is. It currently holds the name of Jordan, and it has had the ill luck of being ruled by the most scurrilous of families whose great claim to rule this nation was based on their family betraying their former masters while eying a better opportunity, something that seemed to write the future history of the treacherous nature of the entire Hashemite lineage.

    I am hopeful that Mudar will soon come to power and displace this family of professional brigands whose only commitment is to their own advantage and a well known love of betrayals to friend and foe alike. I would like to see these geographically confused sect of Arabs, badly misled and misinformed by UNWRA and Israel’s many international ‘allies’, to finally find their Palestinian homeland – it seems that it was never far from reach but only the coordinates were misdiscribed to them.

    A coordination between Mudar with Israel and others might lead to building a strong economic future for his Palestinian Arab people in the state of Jordan, one which might become the envy of all Arabs, but hopefully at least those claiming the title of Palestinian Arabs who might advantage us all, Arabs and Jews, in relocating to their proper side of the River.

    It is a great deal to hope for, but it seems we may soon see the end of the betrayals of the line of Abdullah, which have become so routine among his line that the predictability has become somewhat of a counter-climax. In any event, I wish Mudar every success in his undertaking to see the Jordan Option realized. His efforts towards succeeding to this end will be counted as a great victory to all the descendants of the land that once bore the name Palestine, the scions of Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews, alike. If peace between these descendents is to be possible, this is the only road that might lead us towards it.

  5. I’ve been trying for more than 24 hours to get a rise out of you guys about the despicable Palestinian terrorist murder of innocent Israeli girl Ori Ansbacher. Are you all asleep? Or is it that no one who reads Israpundit cares? What’s wrong with you guys? More about it from the Jerusalem Post. By the way. this is the first article from the JP which has taken the story seriously Before this morning, interested only in electioneering chit-chatlove Israel? Is CO2 really more important to you? This from the Jerusalem Post love Israel? Is CO2 really more important to you? This from the Jerusalem Post:

  6. Israel’s UN Ambassador Demands UN Condemn Barbaric Murder of Ori Ansbacher z’l
    Hana Levi Julian5 Adar I 5779 – February 9, 2019
    Photo Credit: Israel in the UN

    Israel ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council
    Following the vicious murder of Ori Ansbacher z”l, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, called for an urgent meeting with Anatolio Ndong Mba, the Equatorial Guinea ambassador to the United Nations, who is currently serving as the president of the United Nations Security Council, and demanded the Security Council publicly condemn the terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

    Read: Jewish Teen Brutally Murdered in Jerusalem

    “The Security Council’s silence will not help in this fight against terrorism, and will only allow the waves of hatred to grow unchecked,” Danon said.

    “While this silence continues, the Palestinian Authority maintains its policy of paying salaries for terrorists and educating its youth with incitement, and a 19-year-old girl was brutally murdered in Israel.

    Read: Security Forces Arrest Hebron Arab Suspected in Teen Ori Ansbacher’s Murder

    “The Security Council has the responsibility and moral duty to make a clear condemnation of this barbaric murder and to act firmly against the culture of terror in the Palestinian Authority, the very culture that undermines stability in the region and destroys innocent lives,” he said.

  7. In view of the brutal murder yesterday of a sweet, innocent Israeli Jewish girl, Ori Ansbacher the daugher of a rabbi, by a Palestinian Arab terrorist creep, no one should want to benefit the Palestinian “refugees.”

    Police: Forensics at scene led to Palestinian suspect in murder of Israeli teen
    Investigators say evidence found at murder scene in south Jerusalem ties arrested man to brutal killing of Ori Ansbacher ‘without question’

    By TOI staff9 February 2019, 4:58 pm
    home page

    Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian man in Ramallah suspected in the murder of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher on February 8, 2019. (Israel Police)
    Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian man in Ramallah suspected in the murder of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher on February 8, 2019. (Israel Police)
    Israeli police investigating the brutal murder of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem said on Saturday that forensic evidence unearthed at the scene of the crime led forces to the arrest of a Palestinian suspect Friday night.

    Ansbacher, 19, was found dead in the woods at Ein Yael in south Jerusalem late Thursday, with what police said were “signs of violence,” after she was reported missing earlier in the day.

    Israeli security forces arrested the Palestinian suspect in Ramallah late Friday for the murder of Ansbacher, who Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said was killed with “shocking brutality,” and police sources were quoted as saying had been stabbed multiple times in the upper torso.

    Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up

    Police said the forensic evidence at the scene tied the suspect to the murder “without question” and that there would be no need for a confession, according to a Channel 13 report Saturday. The arrest of the suspect was “very quiet,” the police added.

    Ansbacher’s family was notified of the arrest over the course of Saturday.

    Israeli security forces at the scene in Jerusalem where Ori Ansbacher’s body was found on February 7, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    The suspect, a Palestinian resident of Hebron, was taken for questioning by the Shin Bet security services after a raid in the West Bank’s Ramallah/el-Bireh area on Friday night.

    According to PA news outlet Wafa, IDF troops searched two residential buildings and the Jamal Abdel-Nasser Mosque, where a 30-year-old employee was arrested. The report said the Israeli troops confiscated security camera footage from the neighborhood, as well as from the mosque.

    The raid sparked clashes with some local residents, who hurled rocks at the troops. The Palestinian Red Crescent said two Palestinians were treated for light injuries at hospitals in Ramallah.

    A court-imposed gag order on the case was partially lifted Friday to reveal the suspect’s arrest, but all other details of the murder investigation remain barred from publication.

    Though a gag order has been imposed on most details, Israeli television reported Friday, there has been growing suspicion the killing was “nationalistic” — a term generally used to describe Palestinian terrorism.

    Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, called on Friday for the Security Council to condemn the brutal murder, while accusing the Palestinian Authority of fostering a “culture of terror” that led to the killing.

    The body of Ansbacher was found at Ein Yael, which lies between the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and the West Bank village of Walaja. The murder has been described by Israeli authorities as brutal; Ansbacher was said to have been stabbed multiple times.

    Ansbacher was buried in her hometown, the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, on Friday, and politicians from across the political spectrum issued statements of condolence.

    Friends and relatives attend the funeral of Ori Ansbacher, in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, February 8, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    “At this difficult hour we all embrace the Ansbacher family and the people of Tekoa. The security forces are investigating the murder — we will find those responsible for it, and we will bring the matter to justice,” Netanyahu pledged.

    Ansbacher was carrying out a year of national service at a youth center in Jerusalem at the time of her death.

  8. The big question here is, why should Israel shoulder the cost of this deal. The EU is willing to fund all the terrorist activities of the PA and Hamas so they should have no objection to continuing to cough up to support them in the coming years.
    Of course, as mentioned above,

    The hypocrisy of the West is glaring.

  9. Since the idea is for Jordan to be responsible for the Palestinians, I have recommended that all money currently going to the PA and UNRWA be given to Jordan. This amounts to about $1.2 B/yr.

    In addition we have looked into the cost of providing a free home to all families that emigrate it amounts to about $15 billion. or $1.5 B /yr for 10 years. Israel alone could handle it.

    Israel has one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios in the world, namely about 62%. If Israel borrowed all the money in one year and added it to her debt the ratio would go up to about 68%. Many advanced countries are closer to 90% including the US.

    I could tell you a lot more. It is all contained in my articles.

  10. @ joebillscott:
    an excellent question will the west be expected to spend untold billions every year to support a country that is a basket case and unable to support itself with the present population