Author, “ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered (Jerusalem, 2014)
In the midst of this week’s war commentary on the radio, TV and newspapers in Israel, the Israel Minister of Science, Mr. Yaakov Perry, a member of the Israeli security cabinet and former Israeli intelligence official, offered a refreshing solution to the current Israel-Gaza war.
Perry suggested a “MARSHALL PLAN FOR GAZA” to revitalize the lives of the Gaza population.
After all, 75% percent of Gazans wallow in “temporary” UN refugee camps that were founded in the wake of the 1948 war..
Perry’s Marshall Plan for Gaza sounds great- except for one hurdle: UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which operates the Arab refugee camps since 1948, will not hear from it.
As a matter of policy, UNRWA will allow any discussion of any permanent resettlement of Arab refugees from 1948 – not even for their descendents.
Instead, UNRWA insists that Arab refugees from 1948 remain AS REFUGEES until there is a political resolution to the Arab Israeli war – a development that is not at all imminent
The UN policy is not new.
In 1983, at the initiative of Israel government minister Mordecai Ben Porat, Israel embarked on a program to relocate Arab refugees camps in the vicinity of their “temporary” Arab refugee camps – an initiative overruled by a 1985 UN resolution which declared that the resettlement of Arab refugees from 1948 would violate their “inalienable” right of return to villages that they left in 1948.
Only recently, UNRWA introduced a new school curriculum created by the Palestinian Authority. Our agency bought the new PA school books and translated them, and filmed UNRWA classrooms and UNRWA summer camps where the UNRWA war education is applied. This new UNRWA curriculum instructs half a million UNRWA students that their future lies only in the villages that they left in 1948, even if their homes were replaced by Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheva, Sderot and more.
Meanwhile, all new UNRWA school books rename Israeli cities with Arabic names, while the new UNRWA school books indoctrinate UNRWA students that they can only achieve the “right of return” to their 1948 villages by force of arms
Hence, the UNRWA inspiration for Gazans to fire on Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva, Sderot and more.
The donors to this “refugees for perpetuity” policy are the US government and other western nations who fund UNRWA policies, to the tune of 1.2Billion dollars each year.
Perhaps the time has come for UNRWA donors to condition future finance on the creation of an UNRWA curriculum for peace and reconciliation, without any sanctified ‘right of return”.