Seventy years after its founding with an 18-month mandate to provide emergency aid to the “Palestine refugees,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has grown into a gargantuan $1.2 billion, 30,000-strong “phantom sovereignty”1 that has done more than any other international actor to perpetuate the “refugee problem” it was established to solve.

With the Trump administration slashing its donation to the agency, and the Gulf states and the Europeans demanding greater transparency regarding its finances and operations, UNRWA may at long last be approaching its moment of truth.