Originally published at Gatestone Institute.
The Palestinian people, according to a recent study by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, have received per capita, adjusted for inflation, 25 times more aid than did Europeans to rebuild war-torn Western Europe under the Marshall plan after the Second World War.
Most of these funds, according to the study, reached the Palestinian people through The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
UNRWA is the only UN refugee agency dedicated to a single group of people, and the only agency that designates individuals as original refugees if they have lived in areas effected by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, for a minimum of only two years, before being displaced. UNRWA is also the only UN agency that designates the descendants of the original refugees as refugees as well – even though 90% of UNRWA-designated refugees have never actually been displaced.
UNRWA, furthermore, violates the UNHCR Refugee Convention by insisting that two million people (40% of UNWRA’s beneficiaries) who have been given full citizenship in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, are nevertheless still classified as refugees, and by encouraging them to act on a “right of return.”
Although, since World War II, fifty million people have been displaced by armed conflict, the Palestinian people are the only ones in history to receive this special treatment.
Before describing why UNRWA is a body that drastically reduces any chance of a lasting peace, let’s take a look at which citizens are funding UNWRA. After all: “There is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayers’ money.”
The total 2012 UNRWA budget was $907,907,371. Although the permanent supportive rhetoric for the “Palestinian case” from the Muslim world might lead one to expect that UNWRA is funded mainly by Muslim countries, in fact UNRWA is almost entirely funded by Western taxpayers: The USA, EU, UK, Sweden, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands and Japan pay $644,701,999, or 71% of the annual UNRWA budget. The funds from the second largest donor, the EU, are of course already composed of EU taxes from its member states.
So where do the Muslim states rank? First in, at #15, is Saudi Arabia. The land of palaces and private gold leaf painted Airbus A380’s on the Royal runways chipped in $12,030,540 — less than half of a tiny country such as the Netherlands. Second, at #18, is Turkey, the supposedly economically flourishing state of a prime minister who zealously supports Hamas, but which contributes only $8,100,000. Qatar, which stands accused of paying millions in bribes to win the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, and is now spending millions on the construction of high end soccer stadiums, contributed exactly $0 to its Palestinian brothers in faith.
These figures also reflect the nature of the role Muslim countries play in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. In their rhetoric, they are permanently hostile towards Israel and sympathetic to slogans such as: “Free Palestine,” still basically a euphemism for “Destroy Israel.” Even this meager support, however, appears to strengthen the Palestinian leadership’s resolve to say no to peace whenever that occasion arises. The non-existence of peace, however, is what perpetuates Palestinian agony, along with Muslim states’ refusal to deliver anything helpful when it comes to either the material needs or the human rights of the Palestinians. The role of most Muslim states in the conflict therefore seems a subversive one, aimed at the perpetuation of Palestinian suffering to divert attention from their own deficiencies such as their terrible human right record, lack of democracy, and the repression of their own peoples; Assad allegedly lavishly paid Syrian Palestinians to storm the Israeli border in 2011, to divert attention away from his bloody crackdown on his countrymen and to let the world media focus on Israel shooting Palestinians on the border.
Muslim states use the Palestinian people as pawns in a hostile game of chess against Israel.
Now that we know where the money does and does not come from, it might be helpful to review how UNWRA spends it. Just a minor detail to keep in mind along the way: The personal wealth of PA president Abbas is estimated at $100 million. UNWRA also funds for Palestinian children summer camps in which the entire focus seems to emphasize the children’s right of return to the villages in which their grandparents are said to have lived, as well as the means to achieve this: Jihad – as shown in a rather disturbing documentary, Camp Jihad, produced by David Bedein.
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