One state, two-state-NO STATE for UNRWA

Remember those famous wordshe never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity spoken about Yasser Arafat in 1978 by Abba Eban? Those words echo through time to all who claim they want to see a Palestinian state. Why, to this day, have the Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity for a state?

Surely it has occurred to others that the reason that these people never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to make a state, a per-requisite for nation-building, is that they don’t want peace.

They don’t want a state because they don’t want peace. They don’t want peace because it will kill their Golden Goose-UNRWA

I suggest that UNRWA as a charity is big business, too big to fail. UNRWA and the Palestinians are a perfect fit, like a hand in a glove.

Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post wrote “They (The Palestinians) actually wish to lose. They want to generate further disappointment and frustration on the Palestinian street, in order to ensure the continuation of the low-level intifada that has been raging for months.”

Yes, Israel remains a scapegoat for all that ails the Arab street, but there’s more.

As long as there is a failure to launch a state, the PA and Hamas leaders get paid exorbitant amounts of money and all they to do to get paid is incite and provoke hatred for Israel and the Jewish people. Think about it.

Israel provides services like electricity to Gaza and Judea/Samaria often at little or no cost.  Israel collects taxes for the Palestinian “entity.”The Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) a coalition of 27 organizations take care of water and sanitation in Judea/Samaria. Established in 2002, its members include international and national NGOs and UN Agencies.

And all the other services are provided by…UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) And UNRWA is BIG BUSINESS with a 1.2 US billion dollar budget, employing more than 30,000, most of them Palestine refugees and a small number of international staff, in two headquarter offices (Gaza and Amman), five field offices (Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and West Bank), and in four Representative/Liaison Offices (New York, Geneva, Brussels and Cairo).

The employees of UNRWA wrap themselves in the “feel-goodness” of charity aided and abetted by NGO’s. Now, there are many charities that like to say they look forward to the day when they will no longer be needed-no longer in business. I always laugh when I hear that. Who gets up in the morning, picking up a pay check and says-oh boy, I can’t wait until I am pink-slipped?

The Palestinian leadership constantly pushes Israel to make concessions for peace-land for peace, return terrorists just to talk about peace. They encourage pressure from BDS groups, and then always manage to stumble just before the “peace” finish line.

Maybe there was a chance for peace at the beginning: after five Arab countries attacked Israel- and lost. True, they lost more than the war. They lost their honour. The shame they endured- five Arab counties defeated by a nascent nation struggling to come to terms with the history of horror. Not particularly ready for another war. Yet the Jewish state pushed back and survived. And the Arabs were covered in shame. But still, maybe there was a glimmer of hope for a treaty.

And then came UNRWA. UNRWA is the UN agency originally set up in 1949 to ensure relief and development for the Palestinian refugees expelled from what became the State of Israel in 1948. The Agency, for good measure, also provides services to refugees and people displaced by the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967 and subsequent hostilities.  Note that these wars were initiated by the Arab states. Yet the “refugees” are to receive care for life, their lives, their children, their grandchildren and on and on and on.

Can you name another group of people displaced by war who have been coddled from the day of displacement until…forever? No.The standard definition of a refugee, which applies in every case except that of the Palestinians, includes only those actually displaced in any given conflict. UNRWA has defined a Palestinian refugee as anyone whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period  June 1,1946 to May 15,1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” But it has also continually expanded this definition, now stating “the children or grandchildren of such refugees are eligible for agency assistance.”

These people make a living defending the right to call Israelis Nazis, compare Israel to ISIS, push BDS programmes.

UNRWA is in no hurry to be unnecessary nor are the NGO’s and the spokespeople for all of these organizations. These people make a living defending the right to call Israelis Nazis, compare Israel to ISIS, push BDS programmes. Speakers fly all over the world making money defending these things. If there were peace tomorrow they’d all be out of business.

The stated goal of the American State Department toward UNRWA is to “promote the human development of Palestinian refugees by improving living conditions, economic potential, livelihoods, access, and human rights.” It pledges to do so “until a just solution is achieved and UNRWA’s mandate ends.”

With the USA alone providing $294,023,401 in 2013  what incentive can there be for UNRWA to end its work? They’ve been given a gift- a blank cheque to be used for the betterment of the Palestinian Arabs and especially their leadership. Hamas head Khaled Meshal is estimated to have a personal worth in excess of $2 billion, leaders in Gaza are more-or-less dictators, and Mahmoud Abbas has amassed a fortune as president estimated at $100 million. “His sons, too, have accumulated great wealth during his tenure, including from U.S. foreign aid, a monopoly on imported cigarettes, and public works projects.

Arafat was worth “close to $1 billion with investments in companies like a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisian cell phone company and venture capital funds in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands. Although the money for the portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people; it was all controlled by Arafat.”

What incentive can there be for the PA leadership-or UNRWA- to settle? The USA will cover just about everything until there is a peace treaty. But the “peace” dividend is paying out now. No peace-big dividend.

According to the Palestinian Authority of Finance, UNRWA received $3.95 billion in international funding between 1993 and 2004. In 2011 UNRWA received $1.23 billion, roughly half of it provided by the U.S and the European Commission –– its two largest donors, followed by Sweden, Britain and Norway. The budget for the Palestinian refugees in 2012 was $644,701,999 in contributions of which the U.S., EU, U.K., Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan pay 71 per cent of the annual UNRWA budget.

And following the war this summer, a windfall for UNRWA-they have requested 1.6 billion dollars to rebuild refugee facilities in Gaza! So UNRWA builds schools. Bombs are hidden in the schools. Schools are bombed. UNRWA gets money to rebuild facilities.

The worst thing that could happen to UNRWA is a two-state solution-any solution-to the “troubles” in the Middle East. UNRWA would be out of business. Thousands upon thousands of people would become unemployed-not only those with UNRWA but those working in businesses and organizations that supply UNRWA. And then think about the purpose of the UN. Without Israel to bully and use as the scapegoat for all the evils in the world the silence in that building would be deafening. And thousands more jobs would be lost.

Last March, Abbas refused to accept a U.S.-brokered “framework” for the creation of a Palestinian state including a stipulation that the territory of the future Palestine be based on Israel’s 1967 borders. A state! Based on the Palestinian demands! But…surprise, surprise, at the last minute Abbas demanded that Jerusalem would be the capital of Palestine-only Palestine. And the deal, of course, died on the table.

And then think of the money the West has invested in this nation building. The billions expended. How can they walk away from this without some return? How could they possibly explain to their citizens the amount of money down the drain in an archetypal money-pit that has no bottom? All that money that could have been spent on their own citizens-or other refugees.

It is as if the West cannot get out-for fear of losing face in their own countries.

I remember a song written and sung by Country Western favourite Kenny Rodgers. It goes something like this.

“You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Perhaps the time has come for the West to fold those cards and run.

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "
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