In early 2018, President Donald Trump froze a large portion of the funding that the United States provides annually for UNRWA (the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees a in the Near East). Prior to imposing the $125 million freeze, Trump tweeted: “[W]e pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”
The president’s move came in response to the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his henchmen yet again were rejecting American and Israeli peace overtures. Yet it was both welcome and necessary for reasons well beyond Palestinian intransigence. UNRWA not only has an abominable record of ties to terrorism, which makes a mockery of its mandate to ” provide relief, human development and protection services;” but its entire existence is based on a false premise — a special UN definition of “refugee” for Palestinians that sets them apart from other people in the world categorized as such. It thus has been able for decades to keep cash flowing freely into its coffers, providing “humanitarian services” for millions of Palestinians who are not refugees by any measure. As the ZOA’s Morton Klein and Daniel Mandel recently wrote:
“All this stands in stark contrast to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the international body that deals with all refugee problems other than the Palestinian Arabs. UNHRC observes a universal definition of refugee status, one that applies solely to those who actually fled their country during hostilities, civil war, natural disaster, or other disturbances. UNHCR works to resettle refugees quickly and dismantle the temporary refugee camps housing them. Nor does it count descendants as refugees.
“This has immense practical ramifications: in literally all other cases other than the Palestinian Arabs, the number of refugees shrinks over time — chiefly through successful resettlement. In contrast, in the Palestinian Arab case, their numbers continue to expand ceaselessly.
“Thus, instead of the living original refugees officially numbering 30,000, UNRWA now services some 5.3 million Palestinian Arabs.”
The actual number of Palestinian refugees is likely even lower than that cited by the authors: a classified State Department report, delivered to Congress in 2015, reveals it to be closer to 20,000. The report showed that billions of taxpayer dollars have been funneled over the years into an organization that seems to have been perpetuating a fraud. It is no wonder, then, that the Obama administration kept the report’s contents a secret from the American public. More surprising is the fact that, since the report was first submitted to Congress in 2015 — and subsequently exposed by the Washington Free Beacon in January, 2018 — it has yet to be made public. To rectify this situation, fifty-one members of the House of Representatives signed a letter on April 18 — spurred by the Middle East Forum — calling on Trump to declassify the report.