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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian refugees’

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

JNi.Media

Report: Abbas Controlling Multi Billion Dollar Fund that Hasn’t Had a CEO in 15 Years

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

(JNi.media) The Palestinian National Fund has existed since the 1960s, but its leaders keep its operations out of the limelight. It manages billions of dollars, has not appointed an active CEO for 15 years to allow the PA Chairman to retain control over it. Part of the money is funneled to PA officials and funds anti-Israel activities, including organizing rallies in support of the boycott against Israel, Calcalist reported Sunday.

Israelis tend to view Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as a gray and weak leader who lost his control and influence on the Palestinian street, and therefore may no longer be relevant. That may be true, but at least one area in the Palestinian arena the veteran, 80-year-old leader continues to hold tremendous power — he effectively controls the billions of dollars of the Palestinian National Fund, the most important economic institution in the PA, whose activity is conducted mainly in the dark and which has been linked in recent years to a near-complete lack of transparency and widespread corruption. Abbas decides where Palestinian money is directed in the domestic arena, be it for the benefit of the PA resident or to other, more clandestine activities.

Pursuant to the PLO rules, the Palestinian National Fund should be managed by a special council, and its chairman should be a member of the PLO executive committee. In practice, over the past 15 years the fund has been run without Chairman, in violation of PLO rules. A decade ago, then PLO chairman Abbas appointed Ramzi Khouri, head of the office of Yasser Arafat, as CEO. With Arafat gone, Khouri has been a sworn Abbas loyalist. This means that in practice Abbas controls the fund money, and the flow of its funding for anti-Israel propaganda and activities is being carried out with his knowledge and approval.

The Palestinian National Fund is currently funded by donations received from states, organizations, and individuals, as well as from returns on investments in economic projects (companies, real estate, etc.) all over the world, especially in Arab countries. Its exact scope is unknown, but it is estimated at tens of billions of dollars. One of the activities the fund finances is the war of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority against Israel’s international legitimacy.

Although the size of the annual budget for this cause is not known, it appears to be a fairly high on the fund’s list of priorities. Last August, when Chairman of the PLO Foreign Affairs Department Tayseer Khaled received the freed prisoner Khader Adnan in his office in Ramallah. Khaled announced that the priority of his department is “to expand the international boycott against the ‘state of occupation,’ to prosecute Israeli war criminals in the international court and to preventing the Judaization of Jerusalem.” Visitors to the website of the PLO Department of Foreign Affairs can see these priorities plainly, with regular reports from all over the globe on boycott initiatives against Israel and other material portraying Israel in a negative light. Last week the PLO called on Palestinian communities abroad to organize rallies to support for the Palestinian people in Jerusalem.

But the same fund is being used by Abbas to reign in insubordinate PLO members. Last year it was reported that due to disagreements between Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PA Chairman decided to take revenge on the latter and revoked his powers associated with the National Trust funds. Sources close to Abbas explained the move by the authority in the fact that supervising the fund is not the responsibility of the PLO secretary general.

Another example: last year, it was reported that Abbas had ordered stopping allocations to the Popular Front—a PLO member—from the budgets of the National Trust. He did so in response to criticism from this group over security cooperation with Israel in Judea and Samaria.

JNi.Media

Kerry Committed to Return to ‘Save’ Israel from Violence

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will return “soon” to speak with Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and pointed to “settlements” as a major cause of Arab “frustration” that presumably justifies the latest spree of murders and attempted murders of Jews.

Speaking at Harvard University, Kerry said he will “try to work to re-engage and see if we can’t move that away from this precipice.”

His comments were made almost at the same time his spokesman John Kirby issued a statement, reported here, that indicated a change in tone from the usual “balanced blame” and instead was weighted to highlight Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arab terrorist attacks.

It appeared that the State Dept. finally has given up on its magic act that tries to equate Arab violence with Israel’s self-defense, but Kerry once again showed that he looks at the world through a blindfold.

Kerry and his boss President Barack Obama have spent years boosting the hopes of the Arab world that they can annihilate Israel by assuming that forcing Israel to concede to its tactical demands would change their grand strategy to annihilate Zionism.

President Obama made his mark in history with his “reaching out to Muslims” speech in Cairo in 2009, which not coincidentally was followed two years later by Arab Spring rebellions that have left the Middle East in flames.

Kerry led the “peace process” that supposedly “solved” every problem until he came up against the status of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Arab demand for millions of foreign Arabs to flood Israel under the lie of “returning to their homeland.”

But Kerry did not tell Harvard students about any of these issues on Tuesday.

The only subject he mentioned was the “settlements,” which he directly stated are “the” problem.” He asserted:

There’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing, and a frustration among Israelis who don’t see any movement.

So I look at that and I say if that did explode – and I pray and hope it won’t and I think there are options to prevent that – but we would inevitably be – at some point we’re going to have to be engaged in working through those kinds of difficulties. So better to try to find the ways to deal with it before that happens than later.

The Israeli government has found ways to deal the violence. Terrorists’ homes will be destroyed as a deterrent to others who need to know that their acts of “martyrdom” will leave their families with a house in ruins.

The police will be able to place a curfew on violent Arab neighborhoods, an act that hit the good and decent Arabs – and there are plenty of them – in the wallet, where it hurts most.

Kerry apparently still lives somewhere in outer space, where his telescope sees only the “settlements,” Jewish communities whose erasure from the map supposedly would end Arab “frustration” and not inject the Palestinian Authority with adrenalin to return Tel Aviv and Haifa to “Palestine,” as drawn on official Palestinian Authority maps.

Kerry thinks he can do more by “re-engaging” two sides that don’t trust him, for good reason.

The Obama, and to be fair, also the Bush and Clinton administrations, have not changed their destructive tactics to continue the century-old philosophy of “making the world safe democracy.”

Every time the administration’s recipe fails, it cooks up the same poison stew time and time again even after admitting it didn’t cure anyone.

Kerry said at Harvard:

We need to understand here, and we’re trying to do that in a way that doesn’t embroil us in a larger war and once again go through a routine of young Americans being on the ground in a Middle Eastern or other country in the region with a predominant Muslim population and fighting yet again. So we’ve been very careful and tried to do this in ways that we hoped would marshal the people who themselves oppose these activities in order to do it.

Now, it hasn’t panned out as well as some people had thought. [emphasis added].

So we are rethinking and retooling a bunch of different options. The President has already made additional choices. And if Russia were to legitimately commit that it wants to do ISIL and not preserve the Assad regime, but is rather committed to the political settlement that was embraced in the Geneva communiqué of two years ago, then there’s a chance we really could take on ISIL and save Syria and provide the political solution, which is the only legitimate outcome for Syria.

After his speech, the best question that was posed by Harvard students was from an undergraduate, named Gabe Gladstein, who asked if the world really is interested in American ideas. He asked Kerry:

You mentioned nation building earlier and you justified it in general as a concept that is like – by our values and in our interests. I’m wondering how you respond to critics who say that while it’s fine and good for the United States to attempt to sort of import its values and its forms of government into struggling nations, the end product is sort of unnatural, forced, maybe even imperialist.

Kerry hinted he had no answer direct answer by immediately responding, “It’s a very good question.”

All he had to say was:

We don’t run around shoving our idea on other countries anymore. We work very intimately with other nations.

If that is the case, why he is returning to Israel?

Who invited him? Who wants him?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Netanyahu Calls Abbas’ Speech ‘Deceitful’ and ‘Inciting’

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech in the United Nations Wednesday with charges of “deceit” and “incitement.”

A statement from his office said:

Abu Mazen’s speech was deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East.

In contrast to the Palestinians, Israel is strictly maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and is committed to continuing to do so in accordance with the agreements between us and the Jordanians and the Waqf.

We expect and call on the [Palestinian] Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accede to the proposal of the Prime Minister of Israel and enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions.

The fact that he – time and again – has refused to do so is the best possible proof of the fact he does not intend to reach a peace agreement.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Abu Mazen Expresses His True Plans for Israel and Peace

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Palestinian President Mahmoud “Abu Mazen” Abbas said in an interview to the Egyptian paper “Achbar Alyom” last month that 6 million Palestinian refugees, himself included, are waiting to go their homes they were kicked out of [in Israel].”

Abu-Mazen, besides admitting he plans to overrun Israel with 6 million Arabs, said he will “never recognize Israel as a Jewish state – as that would shut the door to all the Palestinian refugees.”

The interview can be read on the MEMRI site.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Palestinians Rebuff Jewish Refugees’ Outreach

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

An offer to advocate for Palestinian refugee rights to cooperate with advocates for the rights of Jewish refugees was rejected at the Zochrot conference. 

The conference went ahead on the supposed site of an Arab village on the Tel Aviv university campus on 29 and 30 September, despite attempts to have it cancelled.  Levana Zamir, the president of the Association of Jews from Egypt in Israel, who made the offer to cooperate,  watched the conference develop into a nightmare – a sick and calculated blueprint for the annihilation of Israel. (One can only marvel at the irony that the bastion of anti-Zionism that is Tel Aviv university, whose staff and students so enthusiastically participated in the conference, should cooperate in their own destruction. )

The Zochrot conference website banner.

The Zochrot conference website banner.

Here is Levana’s report:

Levana Zamir

Levana Zamir

This international conference initiated by the Israeli NGO Zokhrot (meaning ‘we remember’),  titled “Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees” took place over two days in the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv – located on the site of the former Arab village of  Sheikh Mouniss.

It was  a nightmare to me.  Janet Dallal, an Israeli friend from Iraq, was there with me. The other heads of organisations of Jews from Arab countries decided not to come and speak out – saying it would give the conference too much  publicity. Now I can say they were wrong.

The aim of this conference was not to argue whether the Palestinian refugees have a right of return, but the realization of it,  termed ‘decolonization’ by the conference including in parts of north Tel Aviv where small Arab villages were located before 1948.

The conference got off to a slow start, talking about doing justice to the dispossessed and stateless Palestinian refugees, and with a few good words from Leila Hilal, Director of the Middle East Task force of the New America Foundation – the main organisation financing this conference, beside other European organisations.

Leila Hilal said she was embarrassed to open the conference knowing that ‘the right of return’ issue was very delicate for most of Israelis: I liked her opening very much. But she continued saying it was about time to do justice to those politically-displaced refugees and put an end to their suffering. From time to time she talked of “compensation”.

Professor  Dan Rabinovitz of Tel Aviv University (where else?) gave his presentation, saying that the ‘right of return’ would be granted to refugees born in Palestine and are still alive – not to their descendants – i.e. 200, 000 refugees.  A  ‘right of return’ given by Israel to Jews only is discrimination, he said. He asked for recognition and for an apology. The Return would not always be to the original locations, but to alternatives.

After three more presentations about “reconciliation”, the Serbian refugee model, and the research findings of an Arab doctoral student from the UK on displaced Palestinians, it was easy for me at the Q&A to say my few words over the microphone and to ask my question.  I said:
“I came here to give you a hand, to ask you to continue your fight to get back your properties and compensation because I am myself a refugee, a Jewish refugee from Egypt. We were dispossessed of all our family properties, of our identity, then expelled. There are a million Jewish refugees like me from Arab lands – Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, etc.  So I propose to pool our efforts – Palestinian and Jewish refugees – to recover our properties, secure compensation, and not to accept the kizuz (cancelling out) proposed by Israel.

“My question to Leila Hilal was this: “as you represent the New America Foundation, dealing with refugees in the Middle East, would you agree to give us a hand, and deal with Jewish refugees too. Let’s do it together, hand in hand.”

Leila did not answer my question but asked the others to do so.  Prof. Dan Rabinovitz said that my request was absolutely right, but he was an expert on Palestinian refugees and dealt only with them. The doctoral student from the UK, Munir Nuseibah, said he would be ready to develop his research for both sides. But during the coffee break, when I asked him how he would like us to cooperate on his research, he said he could not cooperate. People around us heard his answer very clearly.

When Leila asked the Serbian expert to answer to another question about the success of the ‘right of return’ imposed on Serbia, she said that it was a very bad experience involving killing people, and it had to be stopped.

During the coffe break, the president and founder of Zokhrot, Eitan Bronstein (an Israeli), came to me and said he was ready to see how Zokhrot could cooperate with us to include the Jewish refugees in their themes and activities. At that moment I was really glad to be there, but Leila avoided me and disappeared. I will send her a short message.

Janet Dallal intervened during the afternoon sessions, reminding the audience (all of them leftists) of the existence of the second group of refugees, the Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, and the role of the Arab League in all this.

The second and last part of the conference became a nightmare.

During the whole next day, the lecturers demonstrated what the Return would be like, geographically – through animated short clips – and practically.

For example, in North Tel Aviv, on Ibn-Gvirol Street and the corner of Arlozorof – a sophisticated Tel-Avivian neighbourhood where an Arab village called Soumayel was located – the ‘Israeli occupiers’ would have the right to decide to leave their homes or stay and pay the ‘Palestinian refugee owner’ the ‘market value’ of their house. Then the ‘Palestinian Refugee owner’ would decide between recovering ‘his’ house or taking the money, with all that entailed. The Israeli ‘occupiers’ could not pass their homes on as inheritance to their descendants, etc. etc.

The Palestinian refugee who did not wish to Return, would get all their rights as Israeli citizens (Bituah Leumi national insurance rights, etc). in the paradise of One state for Two Peoples.  There was never any talk of “two separate nation-states”.

Everything is already settled for the Return to Arab villages too. The speakers planned, for example, how the ‘new’ Arab village of Ladjoun, on the edge of the flourishing kibbutz Meggido in the North,  will look, and under which conditions two Arab buildings still located inside the kibbutz would be incorporated into the village.

All this seemed to me sick and destructive, so the second day I did  not attend the conference but watched via the On-line conference link on the Zokhrot Facebook page.

The conference continued in this vein. Some lecturers even said, “Zionism is a crime” and nobody objected, except one lady who said: ” please respect others’ beliefs”. That was the only moment when I wished I had been there to say that today the word “Zionism” has no meaning any more – because the State of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. We are Am Israel, living in Medinat Israel.

To sum up, I cannot believe this is happening to us, that Israelis could side with our enemies so as to annihilate the State of Israel. This conference came one step closer towards this annihilation. I would like to say to all those who were there, that the creation of the State of Israel after 2,000 years was a miracle, and that the people of Israel on its own land is neither invincible, nor should it be taken for granted.

Visit Point of No Return.

Point of No Return

Why the World Loves Palestinians

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, described the special situation of Palestinian refugees on the recent World Refugee Day:

Unlike other refugees, the Palestinians have their own set of rules, their own funding and even their own international agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA. To paraphrase George Orwell, all refugees are equal, but some refugees are more equal than others.

In 2012, the United Nations spent six times more on every Palestinian refugee as compared to all other refugees. Like a favored child, the Palestinians have been on the UN’s permanent payroll for over 60 years and are entitled to every service from healthcare to housing and from food rations to education. When it comes to refugees from Syria or Somalia, responsibility falls to the host country to provide basic assistance.

While UNHCR’s approach teaches independence, UNRWA’s approach prepares the Palestinians to be lifelong dependents. Under UNRWA’s framework, Palestinians can continue to be called refugees long after they acquire citizenship and find permanent housing.

UNRWA’s humanitarian mission is undoubtedly important. However, it is being marred by its unspoken political motto of “once a refugee, always a refugee.” By allowing refugee status to pass to Palestinian children and grandchildren, the number of Palestinian refugees has ballooned from a few hundred thousand in 1948 to over five million today. Left unchecked, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will continue to be added to the UN’s permanent payroll every year.

Let’s apply some simple arithmetic. If about 650,000 Arabs fled Palestine in 1948 (I’m ignoring the smaller number of 1967 refugees in the interest of simplicity) and there are 5 million today, that represents a truly remarkable growth rate of 3.2% per year (the population of India, by contrast, is growing at about 1.7% per year, and that of the US, including immigration, at about 1.1%). If the current trend continues, then, in ten years there will be 6.8 million. The 10 million mark will be reached in 2035, when a Palestinian child born today will be 22 years old. And in 100 years, there will be 116 million Palestinian refugees!

This is clearly unsustainable, but the only ‘solution’ acceptable to the Arabs, to supporters of BDS, to a majority of UN members, and even to our local “Peace Fresno” organization is that all of these Arabs will ‘return to their homes’ in what is today Israel. In the meantime, their ‘oppression’ qualifies them to engage in violent actions.

Prosor continued,

Instead of extending their hand in friendship, the Arab states employed the NIMBY strategy – Not In My Back Yard. Believing that the creation of UNRWA absolved them of any responsibility to their Palestinian brothers, the Arab states passed discriminatory laws. In Lebanon for example, Palestinian refugees are barred from working as doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers or accountants.

By making the Palestinians the poster children for international victimhood, the Arab states believe they hold a permanent trump card to defame and pressure Israel. While the Arab states are saturated in petrol dollars, the funds mysteriously dry up when it comes to assisting Palestinians and subsidizing UNRWA.

Scan the list of UNRWA’s top contributors and you’ll find it’s exclusively North American and West European countries.

To put it more bluntly: the US and the Europeans are contributing more than $650 million a year (2011 figure) to help the Arab nations build a weapon to use against the Jewish state. And the Arabs pay almost nothing! What a deal.

And it is more than simply a demographic weapon. UNRWA in Gaza supports Hamas in several important ways, particularly by way of its educational system. Teachers — who are all Gaza Palestinians — use books and materials supplied by the Hamas regime. Many Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, are graduates of UNRWA schools, and teachers sometimes moonlight as terrorists.

The question of refugees is just one area in which the UN (and its budget) is grotesquely deformed in the direction of the Palestinians. Everyone knows about the imbalance in General Assembly resolutions, and the biased Human Rights Commission. But don’t forget the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People (SCIIHRP), not to mention the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR), which is responsible for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held every year on November 29, the anniversary of the Partition Resolution of 1947.

Vic Rosenthal

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