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August 19, 2018 4:59 am

Palestinian Op-Ed Accurately Explains How UNRWA Turned From Humanitarian to Political

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Palestinian employees of UNRWA in Gaza City demonstrate against the US decision in Jan 2018 to cut contributions to the agency. Photo: Reuters/Mohammed Salem.

Ma’an published an op-ed by Ali Hweidi, a writer and researcher on Palestinian affairs from Lebanon, about the threat of closing down UNRWA.

He begins by stating a truth that UNRWA’s supporters in the West vehemently deny.

The calls for the establishment of alternative institutions to UNRWA are a strategic threat that weakens the political power of the refugee issue and turns it into a humanitarian issue.

That’s exactly it. UNRWA was always meant to be a humanitarian agency, but the Palestinians and Arab world turned the refugee issue into a political issue — a means to attack Israel and not actually solve the problem.

This politicization of UNRWA is what makes it an anti-humanitarian agency.

Hweidi goes through the history of UNRWA, not entirely accurately, describing how different it was in the 1950s compared to today. By doing so, he doesn’t quite realize that he is damning the agency.

In 1949, the Agency was given the task of supporting the Palestinian refugees, in addition to providing humanitarian services such as health, education and relief, coordinating with the host countries to integrate refugees into the economies of the region and working to settle those who do not wish to return and reside in host countries in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. These countries were forced to sign armistice agreements with the Israeli occupation between February and July 1949, creating a political climate suitable to begin the process of resettlement without the objection of the host countries and the exploitation of the deteriorating humanitarian situation of the refugees. The refugees themselves stopped this project and promoted awareness of what their perception was being plotted against them.

It was the Arab countries and self-appointed Palestinian “leaders” who fought against UNRWA’s original aims, not the refugees themselves, who would have gladly accepted being integrated into Arab countries.

And most of them still would, today. We have documented cases where loopholes were opened for Palestinians to become citizens of Egypt and Lebanon, and how tens of thousands of them jumped at the opportunity to do so.

Hweidi describes other failed attempts to integrate Palestinians into the region:

On December 12, 1950, Resolution 393 was issued, under which the United Nations General Assembly entrusted UNRWA with the task of integrating Palestinian refugees into the economies of the region. In 1959, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld presented a paper to the United Nations General Assembly containing a proposal to expand refugee rehabilitation programs and strengthen their capacity to support themselves, dispense with UNRWA’s assistance and settle them in their places of residence, while appealing to Arab countries hosting refugees to cooperate with the agency.

From the start, the Arabs have politicized the Palestinian refugee issue, and that is the entire reason that UNRWA exists today — not to solve the problem, but to perpetuate and maximize it for the benefit of corrupt Palestinian Arab leaders at the expense of the actual stateless Palestinians.

The more people write about UNRWA, the more it is clear that the organization must be dismantled — so that Arabs of Palestinian descent can be fully integrated into the countries that they fled to 70 years ago.

Elder of Ziyon has been blogging about Israel and the Arab world for a really long time now. He also controls the world, but deep down you already knew that.

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