In the context of announced budget cuts, the US administration recently announced that it will drastically reduce its financial support of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wanted the outright cancellation of the $364 million allocated each year to the UN agency, as long as it did not implement reforms and transparency, but US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was for the time being content to halve the first tranche of aid, originally set at $125 million.
At the heart of this case is the desire of US President Donald Trump to stop financing any agency or international organization that does not reflect American interests. There is also, however, a 180-degree turn on the US position in the Arab-Israeli conflict by the new administration. It seems determined not to make the same mistakes — and fall into the same traps — as previous administrations.
First, what is UNRWA?
Established in December 1949 with a one-year mandate, UNRWA aimed at its birth to help resettle the 600,000 Palestinian Arabs who had fled the conflict zone during the rebirth of the state of Israel, after five Arab armies had attacked it — and lost.
The causes of this exile were threefold, according to several polls undertaken in refugee camps and summarized in an article by Tibor Mende, published in French newspaper Le Monde on April 21, 1951:
“Some did not want to live in a Jewish state, others fled the battle and, once that was over, could not return home. Many more left because they were told that it was for a few days, a few weeks at most, and that they would return with the triumphant Arab armies. ”
Surprisingly (or not), no parallel office was created to help the 870,000 Jews expelled and despoiled by the majority of Arab-Muslim countries between 1948 and 1974 — including those militarily forced out of Judea and Samaria by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which hastened to rename this region the “West Bank” after illegally annexing it in 1948.
“Palestine refugees” have been exceptionally indulged by the international community for 70 long years. Consider the ways: They should not even have been classified as refugees, they had the unprecedented benefit of a relief agency created exclusively for their welfare (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA), and they uniquely can pass on the “refugee” status to future generations.
Rather than help resolve the Palestinian refugee problem, these unique benefits have served to confirm the permanency and growth in the refugee problem (what started as less than a million is now over 5 million). No organization has contributed more to this perpetuation than UNRWA, which, instead of ending direct relief and transferring responsibility for the refugees to the host Arab states within months, as stipulated by its mandate, has kept them as passive welfare recipients for decades under false humanitarian pretense.
On March 18, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and the Middle East Forum convened an international conference “Reforming UNRWA,” which considered existing problems and suggested realistic solutions.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The assumption that economic investment aimed at increasing modernization and raising standards of living will weaken ethnic identity and strengthen a minority’s sense of belonging has been disproven in the case of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XUAR) in western China. Uyghur nationalism is increasing despite significant economic investment by the Chinese government, raising questions about the effectiveness of economic development programs designed to close gaps and diminish polarization between different groups.
In 2017, security measures in Xinjiang reached a new level with the recruitment of 100,000 new police officers, widespread installations of police stations, and new surveillance regulations on the Uyghur population (a Sunni Muslim minority numbering around 10 million citizens). These actions were part of a series of measures put in place following the uprising of July 2009, when some of the worst ethnic riots in Xinjiang in decades erupted in the capital of the province, Urumqi. They were sparked by demonstrations organized by the Uyghur to protest economic and ethnic discrimination. After the government used force to disperse the demonstrations, the protest turned into a series of violent acts against Chinese businesses and civilians.