Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is pushing a bill that would immediately halt U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they stop their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel.
The legislation is languishing in the Senate, where it should be getting much more support. The proposal might just be the impetus to obtain accountability for the U.S. tax dollars that are flowing into the Palestinian refugee camps.
United Nations officials say the money contributed by the U.S. to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees is being used for humanitarian purposes, such as food, clothing, shelter and education. Those are, of course, legitimate uses of aid dollars, and should be supported. But growing documentation indicates that some of the American cash is also financing the cultivation of terrorism.
UNRWA has provided aid to Arab refugees and their descendants almost from the time of Israel’s founding in 1948. The agency’s services are supposed to encompass education, health care and social services, and camp infrastructure improvements. Officials claim there are 5 million refugees in the camps but there’s been no accurate census so the figures are uncertain.
Evidence provided by the Israeli-based Center for Near East Policy Research indicates some of the aid money is flowing to the terrorist group Hamas and is being used to promote war against Israel, the United States and other Western nations.
David Bedein, director of the center, says translations of textbooks used in refugee camps show they promote terrorism and carry the message that Palestinians will take back their land through war and the destruction of Israel.
The UNRWA Reform Initiative, launched by Bedein’s agency, has clear goals that should be supported by the United States. It seeks to have the United Nations not finance propaganda that encourages children to engage in acts of war. It wants to stop support for terrorist entities such as Hamas and cease promotion of the “right of return” through “armed struggle” for descendants of refugees from a war 66 years ago, as the U.N. financed textbooks advocate.
The obvious path to peace in the Middle East is to have moderate Palestinian leaders take control of their communities, recognize Israel’s right to exist and then work with international sources to negotiate a fair agreement. But as long as radical elements dominate the Palestinian settlements, this goal is impossible.
In the meantime, while the arbitrary suspension of humanitarian aid would be harsh, what is reasonable is for U.S. leaders to ask for accountability to make sure the funds are not misappropriated by terrorist organizations.
American tax dollars given in good faith shouldn’t be used to promote hatred and violence against the United States.