The reality is that stateless Palestinians would much prefer to become full citizens anywhere than remain in limbo forever. Their actions when such a possibility emerges proves this to be the case.
Yet UNRWA has always pushed the lie of how Palestinians do not want to become citizens of any state except Israel, which cruelly enforces the policies of every other state on earth to determine who is allowed to immigrate.
The Globe and Mail (Canada) writes about the situation of Syrian refugees whose ancestors once lived in British Mandate Palestine and shows that UNRWA continues to tell Palestinians under their mandate that they prefer cash to perpetuate the problem to a permanent solution:
None of the war-weary Palestinians are likely to come to Canada under the Liberal government’s program to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees. Canada is relying on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – which doesn’t deal with Palestinians – to help identify those most eligible for resettlement. UNRWA has no role in the program.Gunness is lying, and he knows it. Palestinians are no different from the other Syrian refugees, and they want to have the chance to live normal lives anywhere rather than remain stuck in the limbo that UNRWA and Arab leaders keep them in.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness declined to comment on Canada’s resettlement program, but he said he hoped that Canada would resume the funding of the agency, which the previous Conservative government halted in 2012. Canada was long a leading donor to UNRWA – providing $32.4-million in assistance in 2007 and another $28-million in 2008 – but sharply reduced that aid over the next few years to $14.6-million in 2012, before making no contribution at all over the three years since.
“Palestinians are finding it increasingly hard to sustain life for themselves and their children in the Middle East,” Mr. Gunness said in an e-mail interview. “It costs seven times more to deal with Palestinian refugees once they get to Europe and beyond than for UNRWA to deliver services to them in the region – which is where they would prefer to be. We are seeing a growing acceptance of this argument among our larger donors and we hope it resonates in Ottawa.”
But notice how Gunness is using the idea that paying UNRWA will keep a small percentage of refugees from Syria out of Western countries as a means to scare Western governments into spending a much higher percentage of their aid funds on Palestinians than on the 90% of refugees who aren't.
And it is a lie, too. As the article mentions, Lebanon (and Jordan) have shut their doors to Syrian Palestinian refugees altogether. Lebanon does not allow anyone to build new houses in the camps. So UNRWA's aid is not helping any Palestinians outside of basic medical and social services. Of course many of them would still prefer to take their chances in Europe rather than live in Syria with UNRWA help.
If UNRWA cared about Palestinians, it would welcome the possibility of Palestinians finally finding a home in Canada. It would be lobbying Gulf states to take them in.
But when Palestinians move out of Lebanon, Syria or Jordan, UNRWA loses a little bit of leverage to ask for funding. It prefers that they remain second-class citizens in areas of UNRWA's mandate than to allow them the possibility of living happy lives outside.
UPDATE: A relevant incident:
The commitment of anti-Zionists to maintaining Palestinians as refugees was highlighted when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in April 2000 and Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley in January 2001 offered to resettle Palestinian refugees in Canada. PLO spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman rejected the Prime Minister's offer. He said: "We reject any kind of settlement of refugees in Arab countries, or in Canada." John Manley, in response to his offer, was burned in effigy near the West Bank city of Nablus. Hussum Khader, head of the largest Palestinian Fatah militia in Nablus, "If Canada is serious about resettlement you could expect military attacks in Ottawa or Montreal"(h/t Max)
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