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February 15, 2016 3:10 am

An Open Letter to Samantha Power on Reforming UNRWA

avatar by David Bedein

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Photo: Screenshot.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Photo: Screenshot.

Dear Ambassador Power,

Welcome to Jerusalem!

Although negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are deadlocked, you can use the leverage of the US — which donates $400 million to UNRWA each year (33% of its budget), to truly help the Palestinian people.

Instead of  just throwing money at UNRWA, the US should use its leadership to improve living conditions of UNRWA refugee residents — and offer a realistic humanitarian alternative to the “right of return” mantra that has been drummed into the minds of half a million UNRWA Palestinian students.

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Here are six possible reforms:

1. The US could work with all donor nations to ask for an audit of funds that flow to UNRWA. This would address widespread documented reports of corruption, wasted resources, and support for Gaza terrorist organizations.

2. The US, as the largest donor to UNRWA, could introduce UN Human Rights Council standards to UNRWA, to advance the resettlement of Arab refugees. Current UNRWA policy is that refugee resettlement would interfere with the “right of return” to Arab villages that existed before 1948. But this means that Palestinians continue to suffer in refugee camps instead of finding homes.

3. The US could ask fellow donor nations to reconsider the new UNRWA education curriculum, which incorporate principles of Jihad, martyrdom, and an assurance of the right of return ‘ by force of arms. This is happening in a UN school system that is supposed to promote the UNRWA slogan of “Peace Starts Here.”

4. The US could ask about the appropriateness of paramilitary training in Gaza-based UNRWA schools. Should UNRWA, as a UN agency, support Palestinian terrorism and violence?   and-unrwa-schools-de- legitimization-demonization- advocacy-of-violent-struggle- rather-than-peace-of-jihad- martyrdo/14346/

5. The US should work with all donor nations to insist that UNRWA dismiss employees who are affiliated with Hamas, in accordance with US law.

6. Last but not least, since UNRWA has recently hired the “youth ambassador” Mohammad Assaf, to travel the world to encourage insurrection and violence, shouldn’t the US oppose his appointment?

This is your opportunity to take initiative during the final year of the Obama administration, and address a pressing humanitarian issue that can be solved.

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