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January 5, 2018 10:49 am

Don’t Cut Off UNRWA, Try to Reform It

avatar by David Bedein


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

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has now questioned the credibility of UNRWA as a recipient of American aid.

By no small coincidence, the General Accounting Office (GAO) — the investigative arm of the US Congress — is scheduled to issue a massive report on the indiscretions of UNRWA at some point during the month of February.

However, just because the US may suspend assistance of $369 million to UNRWA, does not mean that this agency and its $1.2 billion budget will soon disappear.

So what will replace the US aid to UNRWA?

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Donor records show that in 2017, Saudi Arabia became the number three donor to UNRWA — after the US and the EU. They might make up much of the difference if the US abdicates its role in funding the UN body. And the Saudis may not represent a positive development when it comes to UNRWA.

While Riyadh shows a willingness to cooperate with Israel on matters of security and economy, the Saudis have quietly become the mainstay of newly radicalized UNRWA education. A new comprehensive study of all school books, commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, and published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, shows that UNRWA textbooks have deteriorated from mere incitement of children, into a systematic school curriculum of indoctrination for 515,000 UNRWA students to engage in total war against Israel and the Jews.

UNRWA will not go away — despite any US cuts to funding. Recognizing this reality, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists, for example, that funding to UNRWA should be used to reform UNRWA polices.

All of this presents an opportunity for the UNRWA’s donor nations to work in unison to adopt a “UNRWA Reform Initiative.” Elements of this plan could include:

1. Asking for an audit of donor funds that flow to UNRWA. This would address widespread documented reports of wasted resources, duplicity of services and money sent to terror groups, which have gained control over UNRWA operations in Gaza and elsewhere.

2. Introducing UN human rights standards to UNRWA, in order to solve the Palestinian refugee issue by promoting resettlement in other countries. Current UNRWA policy is that refugee resettlement would interfere with the “right of return.”

3. Canceling the new UNRWA curriculum, which incorporates principles of jihad, martyrdom and “right of return” by force of arms — in UN schools that are supposed to promote the UN slogan of “Peace Starts Here.”

4. Ceasing paramilitary training in all UNRWA schools. UNRWA ​could demonstrate its commitment to UN ​peace education principles ​by canceling all paramilitary activities in UNRWA schools, which have been continuing for more than a decade — and preparing children for war.

5. Insisting that UNRWA dismiss employees who are affiliated with ​terrorist organizations, in accordance with laws on the books in ​the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and the EU.

6. Insisting that UNRWA cancel its contract with “​singing ​youth ambassador” Mohammad Assaf, who travels the world encouraging violence. Would this not be the appropriate time for donor nations to ask that UNRWA cancel that contract?

A “UNRWA Reform Initiative” should be endorsed by all mainstream members of the United Nations.   ​

David Bedein, MSW, has devoted thirty years of research into examining UNRWA policies, producing numerous articles, books and films on the subject, while making presentations at the UN, the US Congress, the Canadian Parliament, the British Parliament and the Swedish Parliament. He directs Israel Resource News Agency and administers the Center for Near East Policy Research and is the author of “Roadblock to Peace — How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered” and “The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority.” His website is

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