Wednesday, July 28, 2021

  • Wednesday, July 28, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Palestinians protesting Gaza UNRWA head Matthias Schmale for not being anti-Israel enough

From Senator Rob Portman's page:

Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and his colleagues in the Senate, led by Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID), introduced the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act . This legislation outlines a comprehensive approach to cease U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a successor entity, or to the U.N. regular budget for the support of UNRWA unless the Secretary of State certifies every 180 days to Congress that UNRWA meets strict accountability and transparency criteria.

Joining Portman and Risch in introducing this legislation were Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Todd Young (R-IN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rick Scott (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), and John Thune (R-SD). U.S. Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) also led 27 Republican colleagues in introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Reform of UNRWA is necessary to ensure the organization does not support terrorism and that they are not endangering the security of Israel or promoting anti-Semitic ideology,” said Portman. “I encourage my colleagues in Congress to pass this bicameral bill so that we can bring much-needed accountability and transparency to the agency.”
While the bill does seek transparency and accountability to ensure that UNRWA does not teach antisemitism and support terror, the very beginning of the bill is the part that is the most important.

It defines what a refugee is in this context, and their definition is far more accurate than UNRWA's working definition:

(a) PALESTINIAN REFUGEE DEFINED.—It shall be the policy of the United States, in matters concerning the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (referred to in this Act as  ‘‘UNRWA’’), which operates in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan,  the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, to define a Palestinian refugee as a person who—

(1) resided, between June 1946 and May 1948,  in the region controlled by Britain between 1922 and 1948 that was known as Mandatory Palestine; 

(2) was personally displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict; and

(3) has not accepted an offer of legal residency status, citizenship, or other permanent adjustment in status in another country or territory. 


In applying the definition under subsection (a) with respect to refugees receiving assistance from UNRWA, it shall be the policy of the United States, consistent with the definition of refugee in section  101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)) and the requirements for eligibility for refugee status under section 207 of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1157), that— 

(1) derivative refugee status may only be extended to the spouse or a minor child of a Palestinian refugee; and 
(2) an alien who is firmly resettled in any country is not eligible to retain refugee status. 
This is a normal definition of refugee - and it would essentially end UNRWA because the number of refugees who are still alive under this definition is probably in the low ten thousands.

I am not sure why the senators' press releases didn't highlight this. Of course the definition of Palestinian refugee should be in line with that of every other refugee. It is a winning argument and it is one that is not used enough.

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