Steve Kramer

Refugee camps

I recently received this question from Jim, a loyal reader:
Have you any idea how many “Palestinians” live in refugee camps?  I read a particularly disturbing article from a generally accurate source that states, “Palestinians in exile have mostly lived for generations in refugee camps.”  That statement sounds like anti-Israel and maybe even anti-Semitic propaganda.  Am I right?

My reply: The “refugee camps” are towns, mostly undistinguishable from other Arab towns. The reason they are called refugee camps is to promote and to retain UNWRA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) facilities, jobs, and funding, all of which are the mainstay of the Palestinian Authority (PA) economy. Second, these camps are maintained as such to keep alive the fiction that the inhabitants are ‘displaced,’ even after several generations, and that their true ‘home’ is in Haifa, Jaffa, and even Tel Aviv (which was built in the first decade of the 20th century by Jews).

Your “accurate source” leaves all this out and also glosses over the fact that the “generations” mentioned are a wholly fabricated concept explicitly used for “Palestinian refugees.” Never mind that there were also Jewish Palestinian refugees and that, by definition, no other refugee population passes on refugee status to its descendants. Not only that, UNWRA is a separate UN organ unique to the Palestinian “refugees.” All other refugees world wide fall under the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees); their “refugee” status doesn’t pass to succeeding generations.

This “refugee” situation is a crock, cooked up by the Arabs to eventually eliminate Israel. (See the Plan of Stages below.) Lately, however, the Gulf Arabs and the Egyptians have started to realize – somewhat – that they derive little, if any, benefit from their support of the Palestinian Arabs. They do receive tangible benefits from cooperating, overtly or covertly, with Israel.

Below are some of the facts underpinning the Palestinian Arab refugee industry, an enterprise that employs tens of thousands of UNWRA recipients and keeps hundreds of thousands of them in limbo, sacrifices to the cause of destroying Israel.

A) There are Palestinian refugee camps in the PA, Gaza, and even Jerusalem, plus throughout the Middle East, in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Palestinian Arabs. According to The Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (
“Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), namely, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem [and the Golan Heights], are primarily 1948 refugees [absolutely untrue!] from Mandate Palestine or persons displaced as a result of subsequent hostilities or violence who crossed the 1949 Armistice line delineating Israel from, what is since, the 1967 Occupied Territories.”
[Most of the 1948 refugees are no longer alive. The great majority of today’s “refugees” are children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of the Arabs who, at the urging of their leaders (or out of fear of the Jews), voluntarily abandoned their homes. Most traveled relatively short distances beyond the borders of Mandatory Palestine, expecting to quickly return when the Jews had been “driven into the sea.”]

More from “…Refugees from Mandate Palestine should be able to return to their homes of origin, even if a Palestinian state will be established. …Upon the Partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel, Palestinians were, and still are, legally entitled to choose the nationality of their country of habitual residence or move to their affiliated state, i.e. Israel or Palestine. …The refugee question cannot be resolved within the borders of a future Palestinian state. …The only way in which Palestinian refugees in the OPT can legally cease to be refugees is through the individual and voluntary choice by these refugees…”
[The Palestinian Arabs in the camps are perpetually waiting for the chance to move into “Israel.” At this rate, there will eventually be tens of millions of “Palestinian refugees,” because the United Nations encourages them to wait until Israel physically accepts them rather than to help them enjoy productive lives where they have lived for decades. UNWRA’s function is to settle the refugees in Israel, not in any other location. Israel cannot accept this option, which would expropriate the Jewish State of Israel.]

B) Palestinian refugees (
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was [British Mandatory] Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 [a mere two year requirement], and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.
UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.
[UNWRA’s yearly budget exceeds $1 billion per year. Additional funds to the Palestinian Authority come from the international community (the USA being the largest contributor), including International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs).]

C) Shuafat, is the only Palestinian refugee camp located inside Jerusalem or any other Israeli-administered area.
“While Shafat’s residents carry Jerusalem identity cards, which grants them the same privileges and rights as regular Israelis, the camp itself is largely serviced by UNRWA, even though 40-50% of the camp’s population are not registered refugees. The Israeli West Bank barrier was partially constructed between the camp and the rest of Shuafat and Jerusalem. Some health services are provided by Israeli clinics in the camp. The Israeli presence is limited to checkpoints controlling entry and exit. According to Ir Amim [Israeli left-wing NGO], the camp suffers from high crime because Israeli Police rarely enter due to security concerns [not surprising], while the Palestinian Civil Police Force does not operate in Israeli-administered municipalities. Unlike other UN-run refugee camps, residents of Shuafat camp pay taxes to the Israeli authorities.” (

D) Palestinian Arab rights in the other UNWRA camps, not located inside Israel, are extremely curtailed. I.e. “Palestinians in Lebanon suffer from more than two dozen targeted violations including ambiguous legal status, absence of protection; the outlawing of their right to work and to own a home or real property; adequate housing; health; fair trial; freedom of association; opinion and expression; freedom of movement, accommodation and travel, among others. Forbidding Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from working in all but menial jobs is a major reason UNWRA calculates that 70% are living below the poverty line.” (

E) Plan of Stages (
Abbas Zaki, close associate of Mahmoud Abbas, says a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders is only the first stage in the PA’s program because, “the inspiring idea cannot be achieved all at once. [Rather] in stages.” (Official Syrian Satellite TV Channel, Dec. 23, 2013) The Palestinian Arab leadership happily accepts the legitimacy offered by the UN, EU, and individual countries (including Israel) without being required to make any compromises on its part.

In an interview on Al-Jazeera TV in 2011, Zaki also mentioned the PA stages plan and referred to it as “the inspiring idea,” explaining that it means the end of Israel. He said that Mahmoud Abbas shares the goal of eliminating Israel in stages, but that the PA says it only demands a state along the 1967 borders because it is unacceptable politically to say you want to destroy Israel:
“You can’t say it to the world. You can say it to yourself.” [Today, they say it in Arabic, but not in English.]

F) Palestinian Arab “Refugees” are stooges in the plan to eliminate Israel
“In January 1951, the ‘Committee of Palestine Refugees’ in Lebanon wrote the Arab League political committee, observing that a return to their homes was less than imminent for most of the Palestinians. Until a political solution could be found they could hardly be left to rot in Arab countries without decent food, shelter or means of providing a livelihood. The letter suggested that the Arab states should at least provide those refugees willing to settle outside Palestine with the opportunity to do so. Yet the single affirmative response to this appeal was King Abdullah’s decision to confer Jordanian citizenship on the 200,000-odd refugees of the West Bank. Of these, 100,000 found employment; the rest continued to live in camps on UNRWA’s dole.”
Note: In a report titled “Stateless Again,” issued last month, Human Rights Watch said that 2,700 [Palestinian Arab] people in Jordan lost their citizenship from 2004 to 2008, and that at least another 200,000 remained vulnerable, largely those who moved abroad at some point in search of work. ( 2010)

Jim, these facts should give you ample ammunition to dispute the “facts” in the article you read about the refugee camps. The camps exist because UNWRA continues to receive funding and support from the UN, EU, INGOs and numerous nations on an individual basis. Until UNWRA is disbanded, there will be scant hope for the Palestinian Arabs who inhabit the refugee camps/towns.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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