People are talking again about “reconstructing” Gaza. Yet as long as 3/4 of Gaza’s residents perpetuate their status as refugees, there’s no real possibility for rebuilding and developing Gaza. The problem is that Gaza’s inhabitants do not view that land as their home, but rather as a transit camp they will inhabit until the day they can return to “Palestine.” Because of this, they will prefer to invest their efforts and resources in returning to their “home” – by force if necessary – rather than cultivate the place where they currently reside. Clinging to their dream of return means a continuing war on Israel.
The West, by providing the bulk of the funds for UNRWA’s operations, unwittingly sustains the Palestinian idea that it is better to continue to struggle for “return” rather than come to terms with the legitimacy of Israel and build a new life of prosperity in Gaza. This has to change. Israel should insist that UNRWA’s donor countries – the U.S., Australia, Britain and the EU – desist from supporting the Palestinian demand to annihilate Israel, by way of their support for UNRWA. UNRWA’s essence makes it clear to Gaza’s inhabitants that Gaza is not their true home.