News Analysis |
United States Representative for Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, has proposed that instead of UNRWA, the host countries for Palestinian refugees should dispense the services which the U.N agency provides. “We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organizations, as appropriate,” Greenblatt said in the U.N Security Council.
The proposition, however, was rejected by the agency chief Pierre Krahenbuhl that the matter is up to the entire U.N general assembly to decide and no single country can decide the fate of an organization which has been crucial for the Palestinian refugees over the course of decades.
Trump’s administration plan seems to compel Palestinians into giving up and settle for economic benefit, a proposal which will never work with the Palestinians.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees was founded in 1949, mandated by the United Nations General Assembly which has been providing basic services to nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees living in the camps on Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
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Due to tensions between Hamas and Israel which have led to a trade blockade imposed by the latter, UNRWA has been providing basic necessities such as food to nearly half of the 2 million population of the Gaza strip. Previously, the United States had pulled off its contribution towards the agency, putting the entire operation in jeopardy. With more than $350 million, the United States of America was previously the largest contributor to the agency’s fund and after it scaled back, UNRWA had to cut many of its social service plans.
Why disband the UNRWA?
An auxiliary body of the United Nations specifically dedicated for the Palestinian refugees in a way is an endorsement of the international community for the “right to return” of 700,000 Palestinians who fled the war in 1948, which led to the creation of Israel. The number has significantly increased as nearly two generations of these immigrants are born in the refugee camps, never been able to see their motherland.
UNRWA provided legitimacy to the claim of these Palestinian and at the same time making sure to at least nominally covey that the Palestine-Israel crisis is a pressing agenda which the international community needs to resolve. For Israel, the return of these refugees is never an option as it would turn the Jews into a minority.
Jason Greenblatt, has proposed that instead of UNRWA, the host countries for Palestinian refugees should dispense the services which the U.N agency provides.
In fact, Israel has continued to encroach more Palestinian lands and been building illegal settlements. The U.S proposal to disband UNRWA and allow host countries to deliver the services apparently is a beginning to permanently bury the issue and convincing the host countries to grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees.
Is it part of Trump’s Middle East plan?
The Trump administration is expected to roll out the much-anticipated Middle East Plan next month, pioneered by his aide and son in law Jared Kushner. The plan focuses to work on the economy of Palestine via inviting investment from regional countries in West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
But the core issues of a border settlement, the status of Jerusalem and return of Palestinian refugees remain as is, which is why the Palestinian Prime Minister has rejected the plan altogether. The reason Palestine’s economy is in shambles is due to hostile blockades of goods and services enacted by Israel as a result of the longstanding conflict between the two sides.
If the underlying issue is not addressed, then any effort to stabilize the economy would be futile. Trump’s administration plan seems to compel Palestinians into giving up and settle for economic benefit, a proposal which will never work with the Palestinians. Unless the Israeli occupation is not addressed head-on, the issue cannot be resolved permanently.