Trump's War against UNRWA Will Benefit the Palestinian 'Refugees'
In August 2017, President Trump declared war on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) by rejecting its estimate of over 5 million Palestinian refugees, suggesting that the number was more like 500,000. In effect he was saying that a new definition should be operative. If he were to exclude descendants, there would be fewer than 20,000 people still living who fled in 1948
The State Department followed this attack up by announcing that the US would make no further contribution to UNRWA.
The intent wasn’t to save money or shift the financial burden to others, but rather was to begin the process of doing away with UNRWA itself because it served to perpetuate the refugee problem and the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors, rather than to solve it. And President Trump, and his envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, wanted to solve it.
Not only that, but UNRWA has been known to assist Hamas in its wars with Israel, and it uses Palestinian Authority textbooks that incite hatred of Jews and promote a non-existing right of return.
After the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed Resolution 181 on Nov 17, 1947, the Mandatory Arabs, not yet called Palestinians, declared war on the Jews. After Israel declared independence on May 19, 2048, all surrounding Arab armies invaded Israel.
Not until 1949, when it was clear that Israel was winning the war and enlarging her territory, did the Arabs sign Ceasefire Agreements.
On Dec 8, 1949, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). was created to provide “humanitarian assistance” for “Palestinian refugees,” who were defined as "persons whose regular 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." This definition included both Jews and Arabs until the Israeli government took over responsibility for Jewish refugees in 1952. This definition was later expanded to include those Arabs, and their descendants, who fled the West Bank during the Six Day War in 1967.
Then on Dec 11, 1949, UNGA passed Resolution194 which stated:
“…refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
This resolution is commonly invoked to have created a “right of return” for all Arab refugees. It does no such thing. The Resolution only says, they ”should be permitted” to return rather than “must be permitted” providing they “wished to live in peace with their neighbors” -- which is hardly the case. Besides United Nations General Assembly resolutions are recommendations only. They do not have the force of law.
Nevertheless, Israel created a fund equal to the value, at that time, of the property abandoned. The refugees need only apply.
Today, UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the 5 million people registered with it as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
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).
Unlike UNHCR, UNRWA does not seek to resettle its refugees, but rather is dedicated to preserving their status as “refugees.”
Thus, it was imperative for Trump to seek the end of UNRWA. Otherwise it would be with us forever. Yet there is another thing for Trump to keep in mind.
According to the Palestine Mandate, 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, Britain 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.
President Trump must keep this great injustice to the Jews in mind when crafting the Deal of the Century.
Had the standard definition been used, there would have been few refugees to deal with. In 1948, though living in Palestine, most considered their home of origin to be Syria in the main, but also including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. 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.
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 normalized under the Palestinian Authority. This also applies to Jordan, where there are currently 2.1 million registered Palestinian “refugees”.
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.
Jordan’s King Abdullah is dead set against this but his days as king are numbered. If and 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 2.1 million “refugees” already there. In addition, over 75% of Jordan’s population of 8.5 million are Palestinian.
According to Zahran, they will be provided with housing, jobs, social security and Jordanian citizenship and will be much better off than they are now.
It is not enough for Trump’s Deal of the Century to just normalize or naturalize them. The Plan must include inducements to get them to relocate to Jordan. Such inducements should be offered to all Palestinians, refugees or not.
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.