Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Response to Jpost interview with the head of UNRWA

David Bedein
Director
Israel Resource News Agency
Center for Near East Policy Research

The interview conducted of UNRWA Director General Pierre Krähenbühl by Tova Lazaroff in the Jerusalem Post of Sept. 12, entitled “UNRWA HEAD APPEALS TO ARAB LEAGUE, SAYS REGIONAL STABILITY AT STAKE*, HTTPS://WWW.JPOST.COM/ARAB-ISRAELI-CONFLICT/UNRWA-HEAD-APPEAL-TO-ARAB-LEAGUE-SAYS-REGIONAL-STABILITY-AT-STAKE-566990 was characterized by questions that the interviewer neglected to ask.

When Krähenbühl speaks proudly of the 526,000 pupils educated in the organization’s schools, why did the interviewer not ask the commissioner general about the UNRWA curriculum, whose school books are dedicated to the “right of return by force of arms”?

Why did the interviewer not ask how it is that a school which operates under the auspices of the UN would use maps that delete Israel, a member in good standing of the UN, in all of its school books?

Why did the interviewer not ask the UNRWA commissioner general whether it was appropriate that maps in UNRWA school books would eradicate all names of Israeli cities and substitute the names of Arab villages in their place?

In terms of Hamas presence on the UNRWA premises, why did the interviewer not ask the UNRWA commissioner general about the Hamas takeover of the UNRWA workers union and UNRWA teachers union, which has been a fact of life since 1999?

Instead, the interviewer lets the UNRWA commissioner general get away with his mention of e “two staff members” affiliated with Hamas. And why did the interviewer not ask about the AL Kutla Hamas terror youth clubs that UNRWA allows in their schools?

Yes, there are UNRWA books which deal with human rights.

Our agency examined all 10 UNRWA human rights books. Not one word about human rights for anyone except for the residents of the UNRWA camps.

Perhaps the interviewer should have asked to peruse the UNRWA human rights curriculum, which is devoid of universal human rights.

Krähenbühl seems to have a memory lapse. He does say that there was supposed to be a “five to 10 year handover plan that foresaw the transfer of UNRWA… to the nascent Palestinian Authority. Krähenbühl forgets that the PA and UNRWA held a conference in May 2004 in which both parties decided to prolong the UNRWA mandate and to assure that the ‘right of return” would be carried out”

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all is that Dalal al-Mughrabi killed in a terrorist attack she had led a terror squad against a civilian bus on the Tel Aviv Coastal Highway in 1978 where she murdered 38 civilians, including 13 children, is gloried mentioned in four books, all studied in UNRWA schools.

In all of these UNRWA textbooks, Dalai al-Mughrabi, is glorified by UNRWA education as a “heroine and martyr of Palestine”.

The interviewer could not have asked how it could be that a UN school system would enshrine the legacy of Dalal al-Mughrabi?

It would therefore sound rather strange that the interviewer would let the UNRWA Commissioner General get away with saying that “The World Bank has described our education system as a global public good”

The interviewer could ask the World Bank if they have perused the UNRWA textbooks or vetted the UNRWA teachers.

Annual accounting…writes Michael Kuttner

Well run businesses and enterprises undertake annual stocktaking in order to assess past performances, current achievements and future prospects.

In the Jewish religious calendar the period from the week before Rosh Hashanah until at least Yom Kippur is a time when Jews are encouraged to engage in similar personal introspection, communal accounting and planning for the coming year.

This demands total honesty in order to recognize past failings, current short comings and a realistic agenda for the new year ahead. Instead of denying unpleasant and self evident truths we are instead encouraged to face facts. Only by doing that can we expect to overcome looming challenges. Sweeping inconvenient situations under the carpet in the hope that they will somehow go away should not be part of this annual ritual.

Likewise, pretending that all is b’seder (ok) and that life can continue without any problems is a false premise.

In the spirit of this month it is therefore appropriate to review the past year, assess where we are at the moment and hazard a guess at what may lie ahead for the worldwide Jewish Community.

As I predicted at this time last year those seeking Israel’s demise are still at it and Jewish communities worldwide are facing a rising tide of hate often hidden as anti Zionism. The result, amazingly, is that Israel is stronger than ever. Despite challenges which would sink other countries we are forging ahead on a multitude of fronts.

Looking back twelve months we can see that the situation for Jews in many countries has become dire and fraught with uncertain dangers. One has to wonder why, despite millions spent on Holocaust education and museums in various countries, the poisonous virus keeps infecting increasingly large swathes of humanity. As memories dim (except Jewish ones) the battle to remind the world of what unrestrained hate can trigger becomes much more difficult.

The current situation can therefore be summed up as precarious in most parts of the Diaspora and challenging in Israel.

What can we expect in the year ahead?

Crunch time is rapidly approaching for many. Deciding whether to stay in countries that are economic basket cases or where living openly as Jews is becoming increasingly dangerous should be high on the list. In places where wearing a kippah or displaying a mezuzah attracts violence the ominous signs are clear yet far too many still prevaricate. The prognosis for Jews in South America, most of Europe (east and west), Scandinavia and South Africa is bleak. How many more millions must be poured into sustaining Jewish life in places where the long term prospects are not positive?

The prospect of a declared anti Zionist becoming Prime Minister will present British Jews with a challenge not faced since the days of Mosley and Bevin. If Corbyn is forced out guess who will be blamed? If he stays just imagine the wave of anti Israel venom unleashed.

American Jews face a double threat. On the one hand rising hate from various quarters and on the other a tsunami of self inflicted assimilation and detachment from any meaningful connection to Israel and organized Jewish life. The cost of Jewish day school education not only in the USA but also UK and Australia is a serious problem. Without an intensive and rounded exposure to Judaism, its traditions, customs, beliefs and history the future is bleak.

Where does all this leave Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish People?

It presents us with a unique task. Whether it is the urgent ingathering of our dispersed nation, sending shlichim to communities struggling to provide the basics for survival or defending Jewish rights and lives, the need is growing. In order to prepare for the year ahead we also have to identify where we have failed and what can be done to improve matters.

Our ossified religious establishment has to be revamped and divorced from the political machinations now bringing it into disrepute. We urgently need Rabbinic leadership which is attuned to the requirements of a modern State and not mired in the shtetls of Europe. The coming year demands realistic solutions for conversions, agunot, competitive kashrut authorities and marriage arrangements. If the Chief Rabbinate cannot be modernized to tackle pressing problems it should be abolished and replaced.

As various ethnic groups within the Jewish fabric of society mix and marry we will see future generations creating new and exciting traditions. Economic disparities must be tackled so that the gulf between the haves and the have nots is narrowed. Competition must be increased in many fields so that the cost of living is reduced and workers have more money at their disposal. The cost of housing has to be reduced so that more families can afford to buy and rent. Infrastructure work on roads and railways, already impressive, needs to be increased. Our overburdened health system, although world class and providing comprehensive coverage for all citizens requires additional funding so that an increasing population has access to more hospital beds, doctors and nurses.

The coming year will undoubtedly witness yet more amazing innovations and discoveries in a variety of areas and Israel will once again stun the world. We will no doubt also be among the first to send aid, succor and humanitarian assistance to places of disaster and distress anywhere in the world.

It is almost certain that elections will be held next year so we can look forward to an extended period of political hot air and the usual litany of promises, all ready to be broken at the earliest opportunity.

Israel’s Arab minority will have to decide whether they prefer the benefits of living in a State which respects human rights or would rather throw in their lot with those who ferment terror. Having a dollar each way is no longer feasible.

The only subject I have not mentioned is peace. Unfortunately this remains as distant as ever because of a continuing refusal to accept a valid Jewish presence, sponsorship of terror and a refusal by the UN to face up to the ugly reality it continuously endorses.

A recent news item explains why real peace is likely to remain an illusion: the Fatah movement headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who also serves as chairman of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, stressedthat there will no solution to the conflict or peace if Jerusalem is not recognized as the capital of the State of “Palestine”even if that means the conflict continues forever. 

Thereforethe coming year will once again see Israel facing more of the same delegitimizing efforts.

The Jewish People have seen off mightier empires than the current crop of corrupt deniers. Three powerful tools have helped us to triumph. These are a deep faith in our destiny, a will to succeed and a wicked sense of humor despite adversity. In this vein what better way to face a new year than by having a good laugh?

One of the most successful British TV series, co-written by a Jewish scriptwriter was “Yes Prime Minister.” Here is a short clip which demonstrates what in actual fact goes on behind the scenes:

 

May the New Year be a healthy one and may it bring us nearer to the day when truth and justice finally prevails.

Newest Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks for Grades 11 and 12

Sept. 9, 2018 

In the New Year, The Center for Near East Policy Research has  again engaged the expertise of Dr. Arnon Groiss to examine and translate the newest Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks for Grades 11 and 12 in terms of their attitude to Israel and to peace.

These 33 new school books, published on Sept. 1, 2018 for the new school year, will be presented for all donor nations  at the UN in October, followed by special briefings for legislative bodies in Jerusalem, Washington, Ottawa, London, Stockholm and Canberra.

The following are 3 examples taken from the books of grades 11 and 12 that are currently under study:

  1. The goal of the Palestinian people’s Resistance is uprooting the State of Israel (referred to as “the Zionist Entity”) from the Middle East:

The following item has been taken from a history textbook for grade 12. The red-underlined part has been translated into English and the turquoise-framed part has been rendered in bold letters.

“…The Zionist Entity, which was established on the land of Arab Palestine as a barrier preventing the unification of the two parts of the great Arab homeland [in Asia and Africa], and which aspires to sow the seeds of dissension and internal struggle in all Arab and Muslim societies in order to prevent the creation of Arab unity among the sons of the Arab nation that will act in support of the Palestinian people’s Resistance for the achievement of its independence and [for] the extirpation [isti’sal] of this artificial and foreign Entity from the Arab region…”


(History Studies, Grade 12, Draft (No date [2018]) p. 145)

  1. The “Munich operation of 1972” (the killing of 11 members of the Israeli team to the Olympic Games) is part and parcel of the Palestinian Resistance:

The following item has been taken from a history textbook for grade 11. It has been translated into English from the beginning until the end of the underlined part. This latter part has been put in bold.

“The Palestinian Resistance resorted to many methods in its resistance to Zionist occupation. The Palestinian Fedais [members of the Palestinian armed organizations] pursued the method of guerrilla warfare in most of their confrontations with the Zionists inside the Palestinian territories, and they also resorted to striking the Zionist interest abroad, like the Munich operation of 1972…”


(History Studies, Grade 11, Part 2 (2017) p. 54)

  1. A demonizing question in mathematics (translated in full):

“3. One of the settlers opens fire on the cars passing through one of the roads. If the probability of his hitting a car by one bullet is 0.7 and the settler shot at 10 cars, what do you expect to be the number of the cars that were hit?”

(Mathematics, Grade 11 [Humanities] (2017) p. 55)

Peace Education Opportunity

For the past few months, ever since the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, the US government officials have been discussing what gesture the US could make to the Palestinian Arab people.

“Peace Education” would constitute the best gesture that the US could grant to the Palestinian Arab people , to mandate that all funds for the Palestinian Arab people be predicated on the establishment of a peace education system.

Indeed, a Palestinian Arab peace education program exists , prepared by Ber Zeit University near Ramallah.

Only one problem: The Beir Zeit U peace education program was vetoed by the PLO and its administrative arm, the Palestinian Authority.

The education that the US government has funded has until now been one of absolute war indoctrination. And that the US has the power to change all that.

Under the PLO which US imposed upon the Palestinian Arab people with President Reagan’s unconditional recognition of the PLO in December , 1988, the Palestinian Arab people have been stuck with an entity that strives to become a totalitarian regime, with no civil liberties or human rights for their people, with its focus on an unchanged PLO Covenant that has united Arab students under one common cause: Dismantling the Zionist entity, albeit in stages,

Not even referred to as Israel any more in the newest PA school books, the sole purpose of every Arab child is defined as the realization of the right of return by force of arms, with no Jew allowed in their midst.

Any Arab who deviates from that line of thinking could face incarceration and summary execution.

After five US presidents stayed solidly within the fold of full loyalty to the PLO as the supposed representative of the Palestinian Arab people, we now have an American President who is ready to think differently.

President Trump has made it clear that he will not tolerate the UNRWA “right of return” dogma, an essential part of a new Palestinian Arab Peace Education Initiative can be a demand that UNRWA allow its five million refugee camp clients the right to leave the UNRWA refugee camps and get on with their lives. At this point in time, any UNRWA client who asks to leave the UNRWA refugee camps can face incarceration and summary execution.

The time has come for the US to tell UNRWA to ” Let their people go”.

Department for International Development enquiry: Ref 185611

22 August 2018

Thank you for your email of 29 July about your concerns regarding UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) funding and military training of children. I am replying on behalf of the Department for International Development (DFID). DFID leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for all of us.

We have fully set out the UK’s position with respect of this matter in previous conversations with the Centre for Near East Policy, which is the UK government strongly condemns all forms of violence and incitement to violence. Our support to the UNRWA is based on stringent attention to their neutrality and values of peace.

We increased our planned funding to UNRWA this year and last year to ensure the Agency can continue to deliver vital health and education services. DFID uses a variety of tools to monitor UNRWA’s performance and ensure that funding reaches the intended beneficiaries and delivers planned results, that it delivers value for money, and that it complies with UK transparency requirements.

This position has not changed and there is no additional information that we can provide on the points raised in your email.

Yours sincerely

Anne Langley
Department for International Development

UNRWA Funding Cutoff: What Next?

On August 31, the State Department indicated that the United States was ceasing all contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency, the primary aid organization for Palestinian refugees. In addition to citing “the very disproportionate share” of UNRWA costs being shouldered by the U.S. government, the announcement called the agency’s longstanding business model and fiscal practices “irredeemably flawed,” noting that they have created an “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.” The State Department also criticized “the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business.” What repercussions might this decision have on affected Palestinian communities, and how might the various players overcome the organization’s longstanding resistance to certain reforms?

THE LONG ROAD TO LAST WEEK’S DECISION

The details of talks between the Trump administration and UNRWA over the past year have not been made public, but officials have clearly discussed reforming the agency. In broad terms, Washington is seemingly pushing to return UNRWA to the purpose it was assigned in 1950 by UN General Assembly Resolution 393 (V), paragraph 4, which emphasized “the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement.” Given that Israel rejects repatriation outright, a return to Resolution 393 would entail a phased wind-down of UNRWA operations as registered refugees are politically and economically integrated into their host communities (Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon).

Technically, many of these individuals are not refugees at all under the terms of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and most of them are already well integrated. Other than being on UNRWA rolls, refugees in the West Bank and Gaza have largely the same political and economic status as non-refugees, similar to the many refugees who have been granted citizenship in Jordan. Likewise, many UNRWA “refugee camps” have become regular neighborhoods in host-country cities, with little or no demarcation between them. Yet UNRWA continues to resist U.S.-proposed reforms, undoubtedly backed by the supporters of Palestinian irredentism in the UN General Assembly, which formally oversees the agency

This resistance has appears to have angered the Trump administration. On January 16, the State Department announced that it was withholding $65 million of its scheduled $125 million contribution to UNRWA, noting that it “would like to see some reforms being made” and convince other countries to contribute more before it would disburse the frozen funds. Two days later, a scheduled U.S. contribution of $45 million to a UNRWA emergency appeal was withheld under similar expectations.

Washington’s conditions were never met, it seems, since no withheld or additional funds have been disbursed, culminating in last week’s complete cutoff. The administration may be hoping that this approach will force UNRWA into more-serious discussions of reform—or, at the very least, it will mean no more American support for an agency that many U.S. officials view as recalcitrant and dysfunctional. From their perspective, the monies saved may be reprogrammed to assist Palestinians (or other communities) in ways that better support U.S. regional objectives, though no such reprogramming has been announced as of this writing.

UNRWA and some of its allies apparently wish to maintain the agency as it is, and they are busily trying to replace the U.S. contribution—which constitutes about one-third of the UNRWA budget—with funds from other sources. Additional pledges have already been announced by Germany, Qatar, and others, but so far they do not seem nearly sufficient to replace the U.S. contribution of approximately $360 million per year. The Gulf states are rumored to have promised future increases, but only if UNRWA reduces the number of persons to whom it grants refugee status and provides services.

Washington has also cut some assistance to the Palestinian Authority, ostensibly for its recent reluctance to negotiate with Israeli or U.S. officials. Those cuts will make it difficult for the PA to transfer any of its own funds to UNRWA, assuming Ramallah would ever contemplate such a move.

HUMANITARIAN EFFECTS?

Washington’s announcement should not have a dire impact on the Palestinians. Their first humanitarian need is food, and only a small percentage of UNRWA-registered refugees receive food rations as part of the agency’s means-tested welfare scheme (spending on “relief and social services” consumes about 9% of its budget). UNRWA has sufficient resources to take care of those services even without U.S. funds.

Another pressing humanitarian need is shelter, but only about 4% of UNRWA’s budget is devoted to “Infrastructure and Camp Improvement.” Again, the agency has sufficient resources to cover this.

UNRWA’s biggest expenses lie in education (54% of the budget) and healthcare (17%), so that is where any potential cuts would be felt the most. Yet education and healthcare are entitlements, not means-tested benefits. UNRWA could reduce the costs of these programs by making them means-tested. For example, except for registered refugees who have been confirmed as being in need of welfare like food rations and cash supplements, most people could be charged a small fee for visiting a UNRWA clinic.

The remainder of the budget (16%) falls under “Support Services,” including “Protection.” This broad category encompasses activities such as ensuring the safety of women, children, and the disabled, but also promoting “the rights of Palestine refugees under international law, through the monitoring and reporting of violations and by engaging in private and public advocacy,” principally with regard to alleged Israeli actions. ”Emergency Response” and “Microfinance” also fall under this part of the budget. Although some of these activities are undoubtedly worthwhile, the task of representing Palestinians against Israel should not be the responsibility of a humanitarian organization. And the obvious benefits of a microfinance program are nevertheless expendable when weighed against potential cuts in essential sectors such as education and healthcare. In short, UNRWA has enough funds to finance its core functions without U.S. assistance.

MANAGING THE RISKS

One theoretical danger of Washington’s approach is that withheld funding may be replaced by entities less inclined to press UNRWA on reform. Yet the administration’s risk calculations seem to hinge on two considerations: (1) that U.S. funding is unlikely to be fully replaced, and the resultant financial pressure may convince UNRWA to accept at least some of Washington’s reform proposals; (2) even if the funds are replaced, they will come from either rogue states or countries that can be embarrassed before their own populations by American information campaigns (e.g., Europeans). In the former case, the administration may believe that rogue donors would then have less money to use for other nefarious purposes (with the side benefit of bolstering Washington’s separate effort to increase economic pressure on such actors in order to change their behavior).

One can imagine other risks. For instance, however problematic some aspects of UNRWA-provided education may be, the potential schooling provided by alternate donors such as Hamas, the Syrian regime, and the Hezbollah-led government in Lebanon would almost certainly be worse. Yet UNRWA may be able to make up for the loss of U.S. funding by revising rather than replacing its current educational programs—for instance, by making them means-tested and/or eliminating non-core programs as mentioned previously (e.g., microfinance initiatives; the portion of the “Protection” budget dedicated to representing Palestinian viewpoints against Israel). Those reforms alone would represent significant improvements.

As for the risk of unrest, any U.S. insistence on reducing UNRWA’s rolls via resettlement would almost certainly provoke resistance, demonstrations, and even riots among the refugees affected. Yet the Trump administration has shown little concern about other recent Palestinian protests, such as those that stemmed from its decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Similarly, opposition from UNRWA host governments would raise few worries in the White House, with the possible exception of Jordan’s pro-American leadership. Although Amman is required by domestic sentiment to formally oppose any efforts that erode Palestinian refugee status, it may see some positives in the situation—especially if Washington used the funds it withholds from UNRWA to quietly boost assistance to Jordan. The king has long sought to unify his population, so he may favor replacing UNRWA’s Palestinian-focused services with Jordanian government services. Increased U.S. or international funding would certainly help in that regard.

James Lindsay served as UNRWA’s chief lawyer and general counsel between 2002 and 2007.

Why Trump Was Right to End Funding for the UN Palestinian Aid Organization

Last week, the State Department announced that the Trump administration had concluded an internal review and decided to end all U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Part of the administration’s justification for the decision was the disproportionate level of U.S. financial support, but the more fundamental reason to end U.S. funding lies with the many flaws that have plagued the U.N. agency for decades.

Importantly, the U.S. has made clear that the decision to end funding does not mean it is abandoning the peace process or the Palestinian people:

[T]he United States will intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments, and international stakeholders about new models and new approaches, which may include direct bilateral assistance from the United States and other partners, that can provide today’s Palestinian children with a more durable and dependable path toward a brighter tomorrow.

Although details were not provided, presumably, the U.S. will shift some of the agency funding to the government of Jordan and to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to address the refugees and humanitarian consequences of the Syrian conflict and explore alternative ways to assist Palestinians outside of the UNRWA.

This decision is long overdue. The UNRWA has existed for more than 60 years as a “temporary” initiative to address the needs of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Israeli-Arab conflict and to facilitate their resettlement and/or repatriation. It has evolved into a permanent institution providing services to multiple generations of Palestinian “refugees,” of whom a large majority live outside refugee camps, enjoy citizenship in other countries, or reside in the Palestinian-governed West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Despite receiving ongoing assistance from the UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee problem has only grown larger. The relief agency was set up to address a temporary crisis involving over 600,000 refugees defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

Many of these original refugees are deceased, but the refugee population has expanded to 5.3 million individuals because the UNRWA redefined and expanded its definition of “refugee.”

Today, the agency has made refugee status available to the “descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children.” It classifies a Palestinian as a refugee even if he or she lives in the West Bank or in Gaza (territory governed by Palestinians) or earns citizenship in another country.

This is not consistent with the 1951 Convention or the policy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Substantial evidence indicates that the UNRWA has contributed to Palestinian extremism. For instance:

  • The agency has and likely continues to employ individuals affiliated with Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist extremist group in control of Gaza designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, and the European Union and that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
  • There have been frequent claims (backed by evidence) that Palestinian schools administered by the UNRWA have used textbooks and allowed the presence of materials that delegitimize Israel, denigrate Jews, and venerate martyrdom.
  • The UNRWA encourages the Palestinian fixation on a “right to return” to Israel, which impedes negotiations for a permanent peace agreement.
  • Hamas has used the agency’s facilities and schools to store weapons and divert assistance to its purposes.

These are not new revelations. Indeed, the George W. Bush administration reportedly blocked the reappointment of head of the agency in 2005 over concerns of his bias against Israel and failure to reform the agency to address the above concerns.

Numerous restrictions and requirements now apply under law to U.S. funding for the UNRWA and other aid to the Palestinians precisely because of these concerns.

Although there is a case for implementing the defunding more gradually, the Trump administration deserves credit for its willingness to take action. Previous administrations let the fear of the unknown lead them to continue support in the face of ever-more implacable Palestinian demands and mounting evidence that U.S. taxpayer dollars were being used indirectly or diverted to support Palestinian extremism and violence.

The U.S. has been enormously generous to the UNRWA, providing it with hundreds of millions of dollars annually—more than $6 billion since 1950. Unfortunately, that support did not bring the situation any closer to resolution.

On the contrary, it cemented the status quo and absolved Palestinian leaders of the responsibility to provide health care, education, and other basic services that sovereign governments—which the Palestinians claim to be—are expected to provide for their own people.

Contrary to the claims of the Palestinians, the U.S. is not “violating international law” by ending funding for the UNRWA. U.S. funding is voluntary, not a legal entitlement, and America reasonably expects that its support not be misused and that the Palestinians earnestly engage in the peace process.

Instead, Palestinian leaders have rejected increasingly generous offers since the 1990s. This intransigence, encouraged by Iran and rejectionist Arab leaders, lies at the root of the Palestinian refugee problem and harms the Palestinian people.

Continuing the status quo will only ensure that the UNRWA and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continue their current dissatisfactory trajectories. Although it will likely cause short-term ramifications, the decision to defund this agency will, hopefully, force all parties to re-evaluate their underlying assumptions and refocus attention on what is necessary to end this protracted dispute.

David Bedein – Trump Peace Plan: What will be the status of “Peace Education”?

“Let My People Know” – September briefings

David Bedein, Director
Israel Resource News Agency
Center for Near East Policy Research

A Society Not Ready for Statehood: Palestinian Children Who Kill and Their Adult Enablers

This article by Adam Kredo originally appeared on the Washington Free Beacon.
To read the full report, click here.

The Palestinians continue to groom and employ an increasing number of child terrorists to launch strikes on Israel, throwing into further question the ability of the Palestinian government to form a legitimate state, according to a new report on child terrorists and their enablers provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

At least 18 Palestinian child terrorists ranging in ages from 13 to 18 years old have been caught carrying out terrorist attacks in the first eight months of 2018, including stabbing attacks, bombings, and other types of violent terrorism, according to a new report issued by the Human Rights Voices organization, which tracks and analyzes these attacks.

Since 2015, there has been an alarming use of child terrorists by the Palestinians, according to the report, which found “at least 142 separate terrorist attacks by at least 174 Palestinian children” since September of that year. These attacks led to the deaths of seven Israelis and wounding of 58 others, including some who were children themselves.

The support for Palestinian child terrorists is raising new fears and questions about the Palestinian government’s ability to govern its own state amid a parallel and recent rise in riots along the border with Israel.

“The Palestinian Authority claims it is ready and deserving of statehood. But a society that encourages its own children to engage in violence, to become armed combatants, to kill and to maim in pursuit of their parents’ ambitions—contrary to the most elementary norms of human decency—is not ready, willing or able to accept the essentials of peaceful coexistence,” said Anne Bayefsky, a human rights scholar who serves as director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices.

“The fact is that the wave of Palestinian terrorism that began in September 2015—a wave of stabbings and knifings emulated far beyond the Middle East—has a particularly grotesque feature: child terrorists,” Bayefsky said.

The “preferred method of murder” for these Palestinian child terrorists is stabbings and knifings, according to the report, which found this to be “the modus operandi in 105 of the 142 attacks.”

The ages of these attackers ranged from as young as 8 to 17 years of age. The bulk of these attacks—125 in total—were perpetrated by terrorists aged 15 through 17.

“The exact age of the perpetrator under the age of 18 was unspecified in the cases of 20 additional offenders,” according to the report.

The numbers could be even higher.

“These totals do not include incidents where children are known to have been involved in terror but the exact numbers involved are unknown,” the report notes.

In 2018, for instance, “children have been repeatedly involved in violence along the Gaza border, both as perpetrators (April 6, 2018, sent to the front lines; April 20, 2018, engaged in a variety of attacks; June 9, 2018, attack on Israeli military post; June 24, 2018, arson attack; August 3, 2018, infiltration of Israeli territory), and as ‘human shields,'” the report notes.

At least 101 of these child terrorists were male, while 32 were identified as female. The report criticizes the United Nations for attempting to spin these attacks as the result of Israeli aggression.

“The UN Secretary-General’s most recent annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, released in May 2018, turns Palestinian child terrorists into victims of Israeli defensive reactions,” according to the Human Rights Voices report.

The U.N. report, for example, describes certain attacks as “two girls, three boys aged between 15 and 17 [who] were killed in the context of stabbing or presumed stabbing attacks.” They are not described as terrorists.

The U.N. report “also never mentions ‘Hamas.’ It manages to find ‘worrisome’ not the child stabbers, bombers and shooters, but ‘calls by Palestinian political actors for the participation of youth in stone-throwing against Israelis,'” according to Bayefsky’s report. “At least 32 Palestinian children were involved in carrying out terror attacks during the reporting period of the Secretary General’s report.”

This type of spin by the U.N. has led to accusations it is “an active enabler of the violation of the rights of Israelis and Palestinians: the basic rights to life and security of the person of the Israeli victims of Palestinian children engaged in terrorism, and the rights of Palestinian children not to be recruited or engaged in terrorism in the first place,” according to the report.

Anne Bayefsky, Director, Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust; President, Human Rights Voices, @AnneBayefsky

NRK reveals: Norwegian foreign aid executive received support from Palestinian intelligence

On 17 September Loai Deeb must appear in Stavanger District Court. The Norwegian-Palestinian is charged with having misappropriated and laundered NOK 10 million from his own human rights organisation, which is now bankrupt.

The stakes are high for the former newspaper carrier with a fairy tale career path. In just a few years he built up a human rights organisation with global reach from his head office in Stavanger. At its height the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) had 140 employees and offices in seven countries. From delivering newspapers in Jæren, the Palestinian refugee went on to earn millions in income and become institution president.

Despite accusations to the contrary, the Stavanger man has persistently claimed that the GNRD was neutral and impartial. But today NRK can reveal that in its early years the Norwegian organisation, which was dedicated to human rights and development, had close ties to Palestinian intelligence.

NRK has gained access to previously unpublished documents that show that Loai Deeb was furnished with a Palestinian diplomatic passport. Also, in an internal document, a Palestinian intelligence officer is registered as a board member of the GNRD. The organisation also received money from Palestinian National Authority officials.

Abbas
Reporting to the president: The Palestinian National Authority, here represented by President Mahmoud Abbas, has three intelligence divisions.

FOTO: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN / REUTERS

A source in the Palestinian intelligence service explains the motivation behind the support for the GNRD like this:

– We did it to combat the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We needed a voice and a large organisation that could give us power in the UN and in the international arena, the person told NRK.

Palestinian officials will not comment on the matter. NRK has presented all gathered information to Loai Deeb. He writes in an e-mail that the all of the information presented by NRK is untrue.

Loai Deeb gets Palestinian diplomatic passport

Loai Deeb came to Norway in 2001, as a Palestinian refugee. He is a Norwegian citizen, but according to information obtained by NRK, he has for several years been in possession of a Palestinian diplomatic passport.

This type of Palestinian passport is usually reserved for diplomats and high-ranking civil servants. It is not as exclusive as other types of diplomatic passports, but grants greater freedom of movement in the Middle East than a standard Palestinian passport.

A copy of the passport register in Ramallah shows that Deeb’s diplomatic passport was issued on 15 January 2013. Loai Deeb continues to strongly deny that he has received a diplomatic passport from Palestine.

Loai Deebs pass
Photo caption updated: A Palestinian diplomatic passport was issued to the president of GNRD, Loai Deeb, says the Directorate of Passports and Nationality in Ramallah to the NRK. The two documents on top are printouts with passport information from the Palestinian National Authority. The green document is a copy of Loai Deeb’s ordinary Palestinian passport. NRK has compared the information, and the information corresponds. NRK has redacted personal information from the documents.

FOTO: CHRISTINE SVENDSEN / NRK

– Do I have a Palestinian diplomatic passport? From where am I supposed to have gotten that?

 Do you have such a passport or not?

– No, I do not, Deeb replies.

When NRK contacts the Directorate of Passports and Nationality in Ramallah on the West Bank, the institution confirms that a diplomatic passport was issued to Loai Deeb. NRK gives the number of the diplomatic passport to an employee of the directorate.

– According to the passport number this is Loai Deeb. He is a diplomat, the person says.

However, something about the passport gives the directorate representative reason to pause. There is no information about who has requested that this passport be issued.

– That is odd … How has this happened? There is no basis for him to have received a diplomatic passport, the employee says, and promises to investigate the matter.

Later the directorate employee gets back in touch with NRK.

– The passport has expired. I have not been able to find out how he has acquired it, but we will not be renewing his passport, the employee says.

The diplomatic passport expired on 14 January 2018. During the time Loai Deeb had been president of what is supposed to be a neutral human rights organisation, there had been a Palestinian diplomatic passport issued in Loai Deeb’s name.

A source in Palestinian intelligence says that they were behind the issuing of the passport.

Money from Palestine

In 2012 local websites in the Palestinian territories reported that Palestinian intelligence was supposed to have struck a deal with the GNRD. According to the articles, including one in the Jerusalem Post, the agreement was that intelligence would finance the organisation’s start-up. Palestinian National Authority officials have denied that such a deal was made. Deeb also denies this to NRK.

NRK has gained access to a statement from the organisation’s account with a Swiss bank. This shows that the GNRD had CHF 124,270 in its account in November 2011. This was equivalent at the time to just under NOK 800,000.

Kontoutskrift fra GNRDs konto i Sveits
Bank statement: In November 2011 the GNRD had just under NOK 800,000 in its account with Swiss bank BCGE. The account is registered under the organisation’s French name, ‘Réseau global pour les droits et le developpement’.

FOTO: MOHAMMED ALAYOUBI / NRK

The GNRD’s treasurer, Didier Barthe from Switzerland, established the account. He tells NRK that representatives for a Palestinian authority came to Geneva to discuss the financing of the organisation’s office in Switzerland.

– I know that this money came from Palestine. We received money once or twice, then it stopped, Barthe says of the bank statement. He says the money came from the authorities, but he was not told from which.

– I do not know which public authority it came from. Everything was discussed in Arabic, and I was not part of the discussion, Barthe says.

At this time Loai Deeb was president of the GNRD, and for its operation in Switzerland, which was in its initial phase. Deeb says to NRK that he has no knowledge of the money.

Intelligence officer signs internal document

In the same year, 2011, Palestinian intelligence makes an appearance in the organisation’s board documents.

The GNRD was registered in Norway in 2010. The organisation had two administrative boards, one in Norway and an international board in Switzerland. In the following year another board was established in Switzerland, this one being called the executive committee (comité exécutif).

NRK has now acquired access to an internal document belonging to the organisation. The document is composed of the names and signatures of the members of the executive board. At the bottom of the document there is one remarkable name. It belongs to a Palestinian intelligence officer. The officer has confirmed his membership in the executive committee with this signature.

Hovedstyret i GNRD
In the executive committee: A high ranking member of Palestinian intelligence signed an internal GNRD document composed solely of the names of the executive committee members and their signatures.

FOTO: MOHAMMED ALAYOUBI / NRK

At this point in time the intelligence officer was highly placed in the division for foreign intelligence on the West Bank. This has been confirmed by several sources, verbally and in writing. This signature means he was simultaneously a committee member of what was supposed to be a neutral human rights organisation.

This version of the document is also signed by, among others, President Loai Deeb and Director Nidal Salim. Salim, who resides in Switzerland, tells NRK that he signed the document in November 2011. The document was never submitted to the official register for organisations in Switzerland. NRK has also contacted a number of members of the executive committee. Several of them tell NRK that they were unaware that the intelligence officer had signed the document.

NRK has requested an interview with the intelligence officer, but this enquiry has been refused.

Deeb: – None of this is true

A source in Palestinian intelligence has told NRK that the relationship between the GNRD and Palestinian intelligence broke down at one point. NRK has no information about what led to the rift.

In 2013 the GNRD went through a period of change and upheaval. The Norwegian human rights organisation received large donations from sources in the United Arab Emirates, and experienced major growth. Three companies in the Emirates were behind the largest contributions. According to a report from the bankruptcy estate, the organisation received NOK 114 million in donations from 2013 to 2015. At the same time, a large part of the board was replaced.

Loai Deeb, tidligere president og styreleder i GNRD
Former president of GNRD: Loai Deeb denies connections to Palestinian intelligence and the Palestinian authorities.

FOTO: CHRISTINE SVENDSEN / NRK

The donations from the gulf would eventually turn out to lead to the fall of the GNRD. The Norwegian Economic Crime Unit (Økokrim) suspected that the funds were of illegal origin. In May 2015 police charged the GNRD and Loai Deeb with money laundering. At this point the influx of funds came to a halt.

Despite a long investigation, Økokrim has been unable to discover who in the Emirates was behind the donations. In May the charges against the GNRD were dropped. In September Loai Deeb must appear in Stavanger District Court, charged with embezzlement, money laundering, violating the Immigration Act and Norwegian Customs Act, perjury and forgery.

NRK has presented all of its information on the case to Loai Deeb. He has also seen the printout from the passport registry and the GNRD bank statement. Loai Deeb does not wish to be interviewed, but writes in an email to NRK:

– None of this is true, and I will not comment on absurdities.

Loai Deeb’s legal counsel, Kjell Brygfjeld from the law firm Endresen Brygfjeld Torall in Stavanger, has told NRK that he does not wish to be interviewed by NRK.

NRK has spoken on several occasions with Nabil Abu Rudeinah, the spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, but he no longer replies to NRK’s communications. A spokesman for the Foreign Department in Ramallah told NRK that the Palestinian authorities have no comment. Ambassador Amro al Hourani at the Palestinian embassy in Norway does not wish to be interviewed on the matter.

This photo caption is updated: A Palestinian diplomatic passport was issued to the president of GNRD, Loai Deeb, says the Directorate of Passports and Nationality in Ramallah to the NRK. The two documents on top are printouts with passport information from the Palestinian National Authority. The green document is a copy of Loai Deeb’s ordinary Palestinian passport. NRK has compared the information, and the information corresponds. NRK has redacted personal information from the documents.