Sunday, September 02, 2018

  • Sunday, September 02, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
In the Washington Post, journalists Karen DeYoung and Ruth Eglash make a flatly wrong statement without a scintilla of evidence:

Many UNRWA critics appear to believe incorrectly that ­UNHCR does not recognize descendants of registered refugees as genuine refugees themselves. The two organizations have the same definition — giving assistance to those driven from their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution, war or violence and to their descendants for as long as that status continues.

The goal, according to both agencies, is to repatriate refugees, integrate them into countries where they have fled or resettle them in third countries. But the decision not to go home is up to the refugees themselves.

While in some very specific situations UNHCR will give protection to children of refugees, they do not define them as refugees, but as "derivative refugees." The definition of "refugee" at the UNHCR website is clear and it does not include descendants: it says "A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group."

It does not say "and to their descendants for as long as that status continues." That is purely UNRWA. The Washington Post must publish a correction.

There is only one definition of refugee under international law. UNRWA's definition isn't a legal definition but an administrative one. 

The next paragraph is incorrect as well. UNRWA's goal in the 1950s was indeed to integrate the Palestinians into countries where they have fled or to facilitate them being resettled into third countries, but it has not had that goal since 1960. UNRWA has taught every one of its students since the 1950s that "return" is the only acceptable solution, which is exactly why the agency needs to be dismantled - it has strayed from its original mandate and ensured that its "refugees" remain in that state forever, or as long as Israel refuses to allow millions of hostile Arabs to become citizens.

Even Chris Gunness contradicts the WaPo's definition in that very article, by saying that Jordanian Palestinians are citizens - and therefore would not be considered refugees under UNHCR - but they still deserve UNRWA services because of this mythical "right to return."

“They have to decide,” said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness. “We couldn’t say to you, ‘You’re a citizen now’ ” — as Jordan has declared some 2 million Palestinians in that country — “ ‘you have to give up the right of return.’ ”
That is exactly what UNHCR does say to the people who get its benefits! There is no "right to return" in international law, period, but certainly someone who gains citizenship does not have the right to claim UNHCR services the way Palestinians in Jordan can.

Too bad the WaPo writers didn't point this out.

In addition to those in Jordan, about 800,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees in the West Bank, 1.3 million in Gaza, 534,000 in Syria and 464,000 in Lebanon. “You cannot wish away 5.4 million people,” Gunness said. “There has to be a settlement based on international law and on U.N. resolutions.”
UNHCR also would not consider the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to be "refugees" because they live in the same land they claim is their homeland. So if UNRWA really had the same definition of "refugee" that UNHCR has - forgetting the descendant issue, which is misrepresented - then according to these figures, 4.1 million out of 5.1 million people that UNRWA considers refugees - aren't.

Jordan should take care of Jordanian citizens, the Palestinian Authority should provide services to all of their people and not just some of them, and UNRWA has no reason to exist in those areas. Eglash and de Young should have mentioned that - but they didn't, and chose to lie instead.

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