The US Ambassador to the UN has questioned the credibility of UNRWA as a recipient of US AID.
By no small coincidence, the GAO, the General Accounting Office, 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, that does not mean that this agency and its $1.2 billion budget will soon disappear.
Who will replace US aid to UNRWA? 2016 donor records show that Saudi Arabia became the number three donor to UNRWA after the US and Qatar, donating $123 million. 2017 Saudi donor figures, when published, will show an even greater Saudi increase of funds, which may replace the entire US budget.
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, thanks to Saudi antipathy to Iran, 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, underwritten by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, shows that UNRWA textbooks have deteriorated from incitement of children into a systematic school curriculum of indoctrination for 515,000 UNRWA students to engage in total war.
UNRWA will not go away and that it will remain ensconced as an agency whose continuity is protected by its mandate that persists from the UN General Assembly.
Because UNRWA will continue, no matter what, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. Benyamin Netanyahu, has declared that UNRWA should not simply be slashed. Indeed, Mr. Netanyahu’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, suggests in an interview with journalist Rachel Avraham that all funds to UNRWA should be dependent on a reform of UNRWA polices.
All this presents an opportunity for the UNRWA’s donor nations to work in unison to adopt a “UNRWA Reform Initiative”, since that agency will not going away any time soon:
- Ask for an audit of donor funds that flow to UNRWA.This would address widespread documented reports of wasted resources, duplicity of services and the undesired flow of cash to terror groups, which gained control over UNRWA operations in Gaza and great influence over UNRWA throughout the region over the past 18 years.
- Introduce UNHCR standards to UNRWA, to advance the final settlement of Arab refugees, after 67 years. Current UNRWA policy is that refugee resettlement would interfere with the “right of return” to Arab villages that existed before 1948.
- Cancel the new UNRWA curriculum, which incorporates principles of Jihad, martyrdom and “right of return” by force of arms, in UN schools which are supposed to promote the UN slogan of “Peace Starts Here.”
- Cease paramilitary training in all UNRWA schools. UNRWA could demonstrate commitment to UN peace education principles by cancelling all paramilitary activities in UNRWA schools which have been continuing for more than a decade, preparing children age 9 to 15 for war.
- Insist that UNRWA dismiss employees who are affiliated with terrorist organizationsin accordance with laws on the books in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and the EU, which forbid aid to any agency that employs members of a terrorist organization.
- Insist that UNRWA cancel its contract with “singing youth ambassador” Mohammad Assaf to travel the world encouraging violence. Would this not be the appropriate time for donor nations to ask that UNRWA cancel that contract with a harbinger of war?
Once such a reasonable “UNRWA Reform Initiative” is endorsed by mainstream members of the United Nations, US Ambassador Haley’s comments on UNRWA funding will be understood in context.
David Bedein, MSW, has devoted 30 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 israelbehindthenews.com