The UN agency specializing in aid to Palestinian refugees has become a chronically corrupt organization whose funds are siphoned off by terror groups, especially in Gaza, according to a new series of studies by an American think tank.

Of the 1.2-billion-dollar annual budget of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), about 550-million dollars in education funds is going through the hands of HAMAS, declared researchers at the Center for Near East Policy Research.

“When HAMAS takes over the UNRWA teachers union, it gets their money,” asserted Dr. Mordechai Kedar. He said this was probably about 50 million dollars a year from the UNWRA budget, half of which is financed by American and European tax payers. About 268-million dollars of UNRWA money comes from the US, and a similar amount from the European Union according to Arlene Kushner, who has been studying UNRWA for more than a decade.

Hamas control of UNRWA is not just a financial matter, said Kedar, an Arab affairs expert at Bar Ilan University and an-ex-IDF intelligence officer. He stressed that the terror group controlling Gaza has converted UNRWA school programs into recruiting agents for suicide bombers.

The researchers backed their findings with a 35-minute documentary film entitled “Palestinian Refugee Policy: From Despair to Hope.” The film showed just how deeply Hamas has penetrated the UN agency, using school posters and interviews with UNRWA teachers to highlight how the ideal of killing Israelis-rather than working for peace-had come to dominate a UN agency.

The researchers said UNRWA had a 60-year record of failing to help Palestinians, and, instead was perpetuating their refugee status for its own bureaucratic needs, continuing to control 59 refugee “camps” in several Arab countries, involving a population officially estimated at about four million persons. Outside observer believe there is a great deal of “number fudging” in UNRWA refugee rolls, with deaths and births not recorded accurately.

Kushner and Kedar showed that another UN agency-the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-had a totally different record: successfully resettling millions of refugees from wars and natural disasters all over the world, usually within a ten-year time limit. They cited the fact that UNHCR had successfully resettled Palestinian refugees from Iraq, who were threatened by war there, in Chile, Brazil and Iceland, among other locales.

Speaking at a press conference at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, Kedar and Kushner strongly suggested that Western leaders should revamp UNRWA, which deals only with the Palestinian refugees, and make it more like UNHCR.

Kedar said other Arabs resent the Palestinans as “fat cats,” because they have been living off international aid for 60 years. He said the average Palestinian refugee stipend was several times the annual income of the average Egyptian, for example.

Kushner said that UNRWA in Gaza and in the West Bank had allowed itself to support text books and curricula used by Hamas and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority which demonized Israel and the idea of making peace with it.

“That is complete nonsense for which there is no evidence,” asserted Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA “That is complete nonsense for which there is no evidence,” asserted Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA “The Haaretz newspaper said that the last film produced by David Bedein (who produced the Center for Near Policy Research film) had produced ‘a stack of lies,’ and this sounds remarkably familiar,” he added

“On two occasions after the Gaza war,” said Gunness, “goods were taken from UNRWA, and after public condemnation from me, everything was returned.”

*Dr. Michael Widlanski, who has studied and worked in several Arab countries, teaches Arab politics and communication at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Before entering academia, Dr. Widlanski worked, respectively. at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post, and served as a special adviser to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Adviser to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives that were confiscated at the Orient House in Jerusalem.

He is currently completing a book on Arab-Islamic terror.


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