The Trump administration’s reported plan to overturn US policy on the issue of Palestinian refugees is long overdue. According, initially, to media reports, the new policy — scheduled to be unveiled in early September and based on sealed classified information from the US State Department — will reduce the number of Palestinians defined by the UN as “refugees” from five million to 500,000, thus refuting the figures claimed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The UN figures include descendants (not only children, but grandchildren and great grandchildren) of Palestinians across the world who have never even set foot in Israel, the Gaza Strip or the Palestinian Authority (PA). The new plan will also apparently include a rejection of the Palestinians’ so-called “right of return” to Israel of refugees and their descendants.
Washington also announced that it is cutting all US funding to UNRWA, and will reportedly “ask Israel to ‘reconsider’ the mandate it gives UNRWA to operate in the West Bank.”
This reining in of UNRWA operations — which began in January 2018, when President Donald Trump imposed a $65 million freeze on America’s annual funding — is significant, as it is the first time an American administration has actually sought out and acted upon evidence about the Palestinian refugee organization. Until now, the US has continued to provide billions of dollars to UNRWA, even as monitoring organizations – such as UN Watch, Palestinian Media Watch and NGO Monitor – have repeatedly exposed the complete and ongoing abuse of its mandate, which is already rather a marvel: