EINAT WILF IS a long term peace activist, and former Labor Party MP in Israel under Prime Minister Ehud Barak. She has spent the last fifteen years of her life researching, writing, speaking and advocating on issues relating to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – UNRWA.

Einat believes that anyone who seriously wants to seek peace and do more than virtue signal about the Arab-Israeli conflict should look deeply into the way UNRWA has obstructed that possibility.

Following are edited highlights from her briefing to the UN a week ago, the video of which is included in full at the end of this article.


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After two World Wars and numerous regional and civil wars in the last Century, the world transitioned from empires to states and tens of millions of people – Hindus, Muslims, Germans, Ukrainians, Poles, Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks and Jews – became refugees. All of them and their hundreds of millions of descendants suffered the tragedy and in one way or another were expected to move on, and do not consider themselves “refugees” today.

Except for Palestinians.

Islamist Arabs could have agreed to the U.N. partition plan for the Levant, the Mandatory Palestine administrative region, but instead they rejected Israel’s right to exist and went to war, seeking to end the nation in 1948, just a handful of years after the clear evil of the Holocaust.

They could have lived in peace beside the Jews, but a Jewish nation on land they believed belonged to Islam was intolerable.

People became refugees in that war like in any other. After the war the refugees were settled. The Jewish refugees were settled by Israel, and the Arab refugees were settled by a temporary mechanism. The assumption was that 18 months should be enough time to settle several hundred thousand Arab refugees in the places to which they fled or were expelled: Judea & Samaria, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

But the Arab refugees themselves refused to settle. They attacked the installations and the South because they believed that if they were settled, then the war would undeniably be over and the Jewish state – Israel – would survive.

And to Arab Islamists, that was unacceptable.

The Arab refugees believed the U.N. was responsible for them being refugees, instead of taking responsibility for the fact that they  rejected the plan to partition the land and create two equal, sovereign states, and declared an entirely uncessary war on Israel – and lost. They insisted temporary mechanism to settle Arab refugees had to be named after the U.N. to make it clear that only the U.N. is responsible for their status as refugees.

This is so fundamental to the mentality of the Palestinians that a senior Hamas official just recently commented that the tunnels they’d built were not for the people of Gaza to be safe in, because the people of Gaza were the U.N.’s responsibility – not theirs.

There are three ways to stop being a refugee. One is to return home, another is to be settled in place, and the other is to get citizenship or protection of a third country.

Having no more Arab refugees would mean the 1948 war against Israel’s independence was over, and the Jewish faith would officially get to live again.

This of course is unacceptable to militant Islamists, so they wanted a loophole to the conclusion of refugee status. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is concerned with settling refugees, and normally does unless those refugees already have an agency – such as the “temporary” UNRWA. This loophole means the Arab refugees are never resettled like the tens of millions of other refugees.

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Contrast this loophole with another temporary refugee agency which actually did its job, the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA).

There were 3.1 million Korean refugees – more than four times those displaced by the 1948 Israel versus the Arab world war. UNKRA settled all of them in three years with a third of UNRWA’s budget, and none of them returned home. The Palestinians could have had the prosperity and peace of South Korea today. Instead of millions of descendants of refugees sitting on the border of the Korean Demilitarised Zone plotting their revenge and building terror tunnels, they got on with life and developed the southern Korean Peninsula.

The Arab refugees get UNRWA – a failed agency – and a loophole that never closes.

UNRWA doesn’t operate by any international standards. It counts today, 5.9 million refugees, which by any international standard, none of them are. 40% of them are citizens of Jordan.

Jordan now pretends UNRWA is necessary because it was the one country that was willing to make peace with Israel after 1949. It annexed Judea and Samaria and naturalised the Arab refugees, gave them citizenship and declared Jordan is Palestine – which prompted a Palestinian to assassinate King Abdullah. Concerned with the political stability of their kingdom, the Jordanians have been nervous ever since.

40% of “Palestinian refugees” have been born in Jordan, lived in Jordan, have never been displaced by war and many are wealthy businessmen. 82% of them don’t live in the camps, they travel, they’re middle class – citizens with passports – because of the UNRWA loophole.

If Palestine is a real place, it now has the 5th generation of people who are settled there: born there, live there, never displaced. But because they want to stay at war with Israel and deny Israel any legitimacy, they alone in the world get treated with a unique, irrational definition of “refugee”.

Another 20% of “Palestinian refugees” are still registered in Syria and Lebanon. Yet at least two thirds of them have left, and many have become citizens of other countries. For example, Mohamed Hadid is an American citizen and a multi-millionaire real estate developer, and father of the super models, Gigi and Bella Hadid. Is this what we picture when we think of a “refugee”? UNRWA’s absurd “refugee” loophole means no one is ever taken off their list, even if they become citizens of safe and secure Western nations.

There are now actually only about 20,00 to 30,000 authentic refugees in that they truly crossed the border into Syria or Lebanon, left Mandatory Palestine and were displaced by war. About 200,000 to 300,000 of their descendants are properly known as stateless because Syria and Lebanon discrimate against them in law and refuse them citizenship.

That means only about 5% of the inflated numbers UNRWA claims are actual refugees. The UNHCR deals with such small numbers all the time, settling them within a few years.

The actual problem is minute, but the symbolic problem is exactly as big as the Palestinians want it to be so they can perpetually resist the idea of a legitimate Jewish State.

They must be finally given the message that they can live beside the Jewish State, but not instead of it.

UNRWA must be closed, not replaced. It is the organisation that creates the ideological infrastructure for perpetual jihad against Israel and ensures peace is never possible. It is the true enemy of the contentment, peace and prosperity of Palestinian “refugees”.

UNRWA is the arsonist, not the firefighter.


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Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]

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