Former MK Dr. Einat Wilf argued, in a column that appeared in Israel Hayom Sunday, that it is necessary to call the bluff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and show that it is “a hostile Palestinian organization that perpetuates the dream of the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.”
The core of Wilf’s argument is:
Even if UNRWA itself does not attack the IDF directly, it ensures that there will always be someone to do so in the future. Under a thin veil of humanitarian activities, UNRWA acts with a clear political agenda, aimed at perpetuating the situation of Palestinian refugees and fostering the dream of their return to Israel. This is how UNRWA builds the ideological foundation for the next generation of fighters against Israel.
Officially, UNRWA provides educational, health and social services to the around 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In reality, UNRWA is directly responsible for the fact that 5 million people are registered as Palestinian refugees, a large number of whom continue to live in refugee camps. UNRWA works to inflate the number of registered refugees in two ways. First, the descendants of refugees from 1948, already the fifth generation, are automatically “entitled” to refugee status. And second, UNRWA thwarts any attempt to absorb refugees where they currently live or in third countries. If UNRWA operated the same way as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which is responsible for all other refugee groups in the world, today there would be only tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, rather than millions.
Wilf’s argument echoes that of other experts who have noted that UNRWA, rather than serving as a moderating force, has become very much complicit in Hamas’ terror. Recently Claudia Rosett and the team of Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky have offered similar assessments of the organization.
In The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis, written for the May 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Romirowsky observed:
UNRWA’s role as a jobs machine and a pillar of the Palestinian economy has led to institutional bloat on a huge scale. Its 30,000 employees, for example, dwarf the approximately 5,000 who work for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose remit is the rest of the entire world. The UNHCR mandate, moreover, is clearly focused on the resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees, not on providing services that maintain the status quo. The role played by economic incentives in these organizations is very telling. While UNHCR—forbidden by its mandate to work with Palestinians—has worked to decrease the number of refugees in the world, UNRWA has worked to increase the number of Palestinian refugees, prolonging and exacerbating the problem rather than solving it.