David Bedein
David Bedein

US holds back on Funds for UNRWA: Opportune time to hold UNRWA accountable

​​UNRWA has faced a difficult week.

On  September 9,  the UNRWA donor nations gathered for a conference of donor nations in Amman to launch a new school year for half a million students who learn in UNRWA schools located in 59 “temporary” (since 1949) UNRWA refugee camps.

UNRWA’s official site, UNRWA.org, reports that UNRWA  allocates 58% of its $1.5 billion budget to education, whose  focus is the  “right of return” to villages that existed before 1948.


A diplomat who attended the UNRWA donors conference  described to the Bedein Center how the upbeat atmosphere at the gathering turned sour, when UNRWA commissioner, Phillipe Lazarini, welcomed renewal of US support  cut off by US President Trump three years ago but announced that the US had not fulfilled its commitment to supply $135 million promised to UNRWA by the US in April.

The reason: UNRWA did not fulfill commitments promised the US: To revamp the UNRWA curriculum and provide proof of transparency.

In July, Lazzarini’s spokeswoman told a  Swiss media outlet that UNRWA would not change its the school curriculum, which relies on texts from the Palestinian Ministry of Education.


Senator James Risch, ranking Republican on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has  led an effort to delay  US funds to UNRWA, before a change in the curriculum used by UNRWA and proof of transparency.

On Sept. 14, when reps of the Bedein center made its annual visit to the Palestinian Ministry of Education to purchase new school text books that the PA would hand over to UNRWA for the new school year, the message they got was that UNRWA did not have funds this year to pay the cost of printing this year’s text books, so QATAR will now foot the bill, and  PA texts for UNRWA will instead be printed in Jordan.

Such a development  gives Israel and the representatives of the donor nations the opportunity to examine  objectionable PA/UNRWA school books at the Allenby Bridge  between Jordan and Israel, before these texts are delivered to UNRWA.

This is an opportune time for the US Congress and all donor nations to hold UNRWA accountable.

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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