After cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority by more than $200 million over the weekend, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is set to make another bombshell announcement – that the United States will either stop or significantly cut its assistance to UNWRA, the United Nations agency that deals exclusively with Palestinian refugees and their descendants, effectively ending the possibility of the “Palestinian right of return,” which holds that the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 must return to their parents’ or grandparents’ property in order for there to be peace.
Israeli officials have for years decried the U.N. organization that, according to many, preserved the status of “refugee” among Arabs who fled what would become the State of Israel in 1948. Legislation in many Arab countries prevents them from becoming citizens, and many are forced to live in refugee camps, which over the years in many cases have become thriving cities, with infrastructure, schools, and businesses – and much of it funded by UNWRA.
Israeli officials have also hotly disputed the number of refugees UNWRA is supposedly taking care of; while Israel counts no more than a half million people who actually fled the borders of Israel in 1948 (many of them elderly), UNWRA has more than 5 million refugees on its books – the result of counting as refugees the descendants (now the third and fourth generation of such “refugees” in many families) of those who fled Israel.
According to U.S. administration sources quoted by Hadashot News, the Americans have decided to adopt the Israeli viewpoint on the matter. Thus, the new U.S. policy will be to encourage Palestinians to seek citizenship in the countries where they currently live, and to cut aid to UNWRA significantly, if not to eliminate it altogether. The U.S. will also ask Israel to reconsider the permits Israel has given UNWRA to operate in Yehudah and Shomron, in order to ensure that Arab countries do not try to keep UNWRA going with their own funding in order to make up the American cuts to the organization’s budget.
In response to the reports, the U.S. National Security Council said in a statement that the administration would announce its policy on UNWRA “at the appropriate time.”
Commenting on the report, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that he “congratulates U.S. President Donald Trump for this decision to remove American recognition of UNWRA, and thus end American recognition in the right of return. This step, like the historic decision to relocate the American embassy to Yerushalayim, essentially cancels two U.N. resolutions. It is a great victory for Israel.”