UNRWA mandate comes up for renewal: An opportunity for UNRWA Policy Change

The professional staff of Israel Resource News Agency at the Center for Near East Policy Research has, since August 1, 2000, translated and examined the new school books issued by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education and used by 321,000 students of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.In the newest PA school books, used by UNRWA, all of which our center has examined, areas settled by “Zionists” are defined for the Arab school child as occupied and illegal, with the explicit command given to obliterate them.

Both sides of the political spectrum in Israel have been misled into believing that what is on the table for negotiations is the territory area taken by Israel in 1967In fact, the UNRWA school system (which operates in 59 Arab refugee camps in Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) now calls for a violent “right of return by force of arms” to all lands lost to the Arabs in 1948.

Most observers ignore the UNRWA reality –of five million descendants who dwell in “temporary shelters” financed by a $1.2 billion of donations from 67 nations, with little transparency.

What can be done? The UNRWA mandate, debated by the UN General Assembly every five years since 1949, is now up for renewal.

The time has come for the donor nations of the world to defuse the toxic UNRWA powder keg: This can and should be accomplished in six steps.

1. Cancel the new UNRWA curriculum which incorporates principles of Jihad, martyrdom and an “right of return” by force of arms, in UN schools which are supposed to promote the UNRWA slogan of “Peace Starts Here.”

2. Cease paramilitary training in all UNRWA schools. UNRWA should demonstrate commitment to UN principles for “peace education”.

3. Insist that UNRWA dismiss employees who are affiliated with Hamas in accordance with laws on the books in Western nations, which forbid aid to any agency that employs members of a terrorist organization.

4. Insist that UNRWA cancel its contract with “youth ambassador” Mohammad Assaf to travel the world encouraging anti Israeli violence.

5. Insist on an independent 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 Gaza-based terror groups, which gained control over UNRWA operations in Gaza during the past 18 years.

6. Introduce UNHCR standards to UNRWA to advance the resettlement of Arab refugees. Current UNRWA policy is that refugee resettlement would interfere with the “right of return” to Arab villages that existed before 1948.

About the Author
David Bedein, who grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1970 at the age of 20, is an MSW community organizer by profession and an expereinced investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the Beit Agron Int’l Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. In 1991, Bedein was the special CNN middle east radio correspondent. Since 2001, Bedein has contributed features to the newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2006, Bedein became the foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. He is the author of " The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority" and "ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered"and the director and producer of the numerous short films about UNRWA policy which can be located at: http://tinyurl.com/lxc6xvs
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