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July 26, 2015 3:38 pm

Don’t Let US-Iran Deal Obfuscate New US-UNRWA Pact

avatar by David Bedein

Palestinian boys raise their hands in a school run by the UNRWA. Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

Palestinian boys raise their hands in a school run by the UNRWA. Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

As the eyes of the world focus on the dysfunctional U.S.-Iranian accord, another dysfunctional accord with the U.S. government has escaped public scrutiny: The new accord reached between America and UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which was recently posted on the State Department website.

The U.S., the largest funder of UNRWA (at $400 million this year, one third of the UNRWA budget), should have stipulated that the funding could only go to resettle UNRWA’s client population: 5.4 million descendents of Arab refugees from the 1948 war.

Yet the U.S.-UNRWA accord mentions nothing of the kind.

Instead, it mandates that thousands of these descendents – who have wallowed in the indignity of refugee life for 67 years, must continue to live in refugee squalor “until a comprehensive and just solution is secured” – something that UNRWA will not let happen. Because if it did, UNRWA would no longer have a purpose.

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Dr. Arnon Groiss, a journalist from the Arabic language service of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, who has extensively studied PA textbooks used in the UNRWA schools, has concluded that no solution to the refugee issue is offered by UNRWA except for the “right of return” to Israeli-Arab villages that existed before 1948.

Manifestations of the “right of return” in PA textbooks, as taught in UNRWA’s schools, are not nostalgic literary pieces. Rather, as presented to the students, the “right of return” plays a prominent role in the Palestinian political vision of a continued struggle against Israel, until its eventual destruction is achieved.

The educational services provided by UNRWA to their 492,000 students promote violence and war, in contradiction to the Agency’s declared mission as a UN agency dedicated to peace.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-UNRWA accord proudly features the UNRWA “Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance Curriculum” as a step in the right direction.

Dr. Groiss has evaluated that curriculum and discerned what is missing: any mention of freedom of religion, religious equality, and religious tolerance. In fact, the books are totally devoid of any mention of religion.

The U.S.-UNRWA accord also lauds section 301(c) of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (hereinafter referred to as “section 301(c)”), which states: “No contributions by the United States shall be made to (UNRWA) except on the condition that (UNRWA) take all possible measures to assure than no part of the United States contribution shall be used to furnish assistance to any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerilla-type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism.”

Yet the new U.S.-UNRWA accord does not verify this is happening. Instead, it relies on UNRWA itself to enforce this clause. Given UNRWA’s track record, you can bet that U.S. dollars will be funding terrorism.

Just as the U.S. accord with Iran lacks proper detection mechanisms, the U.S. now allows UNRWA to determine if it has committed a security indiscretion. At the same time, the accord turns a blind eye to the Hamas takeover of UNRWA facilities in Gaza.

Sixteen years ago, the Gaza-based employees of UNRWA held elections to choose union leaders. Hamas took advantage of the campaign, and took over the entire teachers association and workers association. By 2012, more the 90 percent of UNRWA employees had become Hamas supporters.

As a result of the takeover, Hamas created an apparatus whose mission is to maintain its grip on the Gaza-based UNRWA schools. Al-Kutla Al-Islamiya (the Islamic Bloc) changed the school curriculum and introduced new textbooks to disseminate Hamas ideology to young Gazans.

Yet the U.S. State Department turns a blind eye towards this. And once again – you can bet U.S. dollars are going towards efforts that support Hamas and its indoctrination of schoolchildren.

For whatever reason, the new U.S.-UNRWA accord conveys one message: Barack Obama trusts UNRWA and the status quo. Maybe the Iranian deal doesn’t look so bad in comparison.

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