4 times too muchThursday 07/09/2017

The U.N. faces the largest refugee crisis in its history. Sixty-eight million people need help. Why, then, does the U.N. give four times as much aid, annually, to each Palestinian refugee as it gives to refugees anywhere else in the world?

Here is another question.

Why does UNRWA, the agency that handles five million Palestinians, employ 30,000 people while the World Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which serves sixty-three million refugees, employs 10,000 people?

The answers: politics. And politics.

To make matters even worse, the two agencies duplicate efforts in the same regions. UNRWA clinics refuse to treat Syrian or Lebanese refugees, but will only treat Palestinians. So, UNHCR must maintain redundant clinics in the same places, while the desperate health needs of refugees in other world regions take the hit.

Ron Prosor, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. and currently the head of the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy, will shortly present the U.N. a plan to consolidate the resources of both agencies. What could possibly prevent the long-overdue adoption of such a common-sense proposal?

Nothing but politics as practiced within the as-if world of UNRWA whose work, unlike UNHCR, expects and requires the number of Palestinian refugees to “expand without limit”.

How can such a political miracle take place?

Conveniently, it turns out that Palestinian refugees aren’t really refugees at all and never have been.

Refugees, by definition, are refugees from somewhere. Palestinians are not, as you may imagine, refugees from Israel because they would then be eligible to apply for asylum in countries like Egypt, Syria and Jordan. But those countries have refused to accept and resettle Palestinians within their own lands for more than seven decades, blaming Israel for their own hostility.

Nor, however, can Palestinians return, legally, to Israel. They are not refugees from that land. Besides, U.N. statutes stipulated Israel’s own sovereignty, which she confirmed by a heroic war of Independence, and completed by generous assimilation of mistreated Jewish refugees.

Until the Orwellian treatment of Palestinians ends, normalization of relations between them, Israel and even other Arab nations is impossible. Not Israel, but rather fellow-Arabs and a complicit UNRWA trap the Palestinian people within impossible legal and political contradictions.

Prosor’s plan will end the UNRWA fantasy. Unfortunately, this makes it all too likely that the consolidation of UNRWA and UNHCR will fail to pass muster at today’s United Fantasyland, a.k.a. the United Nations.

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