Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to solve the Arab refugee problem. Part III


3rd part of 3

Chapter 8: How Much UNRWA Cost

As we mentioned in previous chapters, UNRWA is an expensive and inefficient agency, with a budget of $541.8 million in 2008 that rose to $649.9 million in 2009. This budget increases as UNRWA registers more refugees each year, due to its policy of counting descendants of refugees of the 1948 War of Independence as refugees, and expanding its services, forming a pseudo-state.

In June 2009, the listed number of registered UNRWA refugees rose by 2.2% as compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 4,671,811. In Gaza, where the refugee population rose by 3%, there are 1,072,303 refugees, and in Judea and Samaria there are 762,829 refugees, 2.2% more than the previous year. There also was an increase in Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Top donors' contributions have risen in proportion to the increase in refugees.

The European Commission (EC) and the United States are UNRWA's top donors, contributing 47% of the agency's overall received contributions for 2008 ($799,337,517). Sweden, the next-largest donor, gave a little over one quarter of what the US did ($51,568,339). The only Arab donors in the top 20 contributors to UNRWA are the Saudi Committee and the OPEC Fund for International Development, giving a total of $13,999,977.

Each year, states offer an amount towards UNRWA's general budget. Services in this budget include:

Education: Elementary and Secondary schools, Vocational Training, Teachers' Training

Health: Primary Health Care Facilities, Dental Services, DiabetesHypertension Care, and Laboratory Services

Microfinance and microenterprise loans

Relief and Social Services: Special Hardship Cases, Women's Centers, and Community Rehabilitation Centers

29,563 (!) Staff Posts

The money donated to UNRWA's general budget essentially goes towards the formation of a pseudo-state in the areas of UNRWA activity. The agency goes beyond the provision of essential services to the refugees, building their dependence on UNRWA.

Throughout the year, UNRWA petitions donor states and NGOs for additional contributions for "Projects" (another $28.5 million in 2009), "Emergency Appeal: Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt)" ($275,288,085) and "Lebanon: Nahr el-Bared Camp Appeal" ($42,711,715). Parts of these so-called emergency appeals by this supposedly apolitical agency include blatant opposition to Israeli actions. For example, one of the "strategic objectives" of "Emergency Appeal: Occupied Palestinian Territories" is to oppose and work towards the abolishment of restrictions on movement in and out of "the oPt." As a result of these "emergencies," which seem to happen every year, the European Commission's contribution rose from $139,685,831 to $189,979,113, and the United States' contribution nearly doubled, increasing from $95,726,691 to $187,008,231 — more than the donations received from the entire world in 1986.

UNRWA does not provide figures for all 60 years of its operation, but the information it does provide shows that the number of refguees is more than double what it was 25 years ago, and governments and the EC nearly tripled their annual contributions in the same amount of time.

In the past decade alone, UNRWA has spent more than 4.5 billion dollars.

The price of keeping UNRWA alive keeps rising. Think about how much of this money has lined the pockets of terrorists employed by UNRWA. Imagine, in UNRWA's 60 years of existence, how much of your tax-money has been spent in order to perpetuate the refugee situation, and continue the violence against Israel.

Chapter 9: How Much Rehabilitation Costs

It is complicated to determine the cost of rehabilitation. It is a process that demands careful and weighty analysis of many factors. The rehabilitation of refugees in host countries requires resources and infrastructure projects in order to improve the refugees' lives, providing employment and education and freeing hundreds of thousands from their dependence on UNRWA. In the case of emigration to other lands, there is no need for major infrastructure projects, but each family must be granted a significant amount of money in order to enable them to successfully integrate into society.

Any arrangement should encompass the $6.5 billion granted to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority each year, plus the supplemental $7 billion donor countries promised in December 2007.

A number of studies have shown that a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem is financially feasible. Rex Brynen, a professor of Political Science at McGill University and an expert on Middle East politics and post-conflict reconstruction wrote a report entitled "Implementing a (Just) Solution to the Palestinian Refugee Issue: Estimating the Financial Costs." Based on unpublished analysis by the World Bank from the years 2000-2003, Brynen estimated the costs of relocation, returnee absorption, third-country resettlement, closing UNRWA, camp improvement/refugee development, refugee compensation and host country compensation.

The results of his research is that a ten-year project, combining all different expenses listed above, will cost between $21 to $30 billion, bringing the Palestinian refugee problem to an end once and for all.

It sounds expensive, but this sum is equal to 4 or 5 years of regular funding — funding that has only kept the problem alive.

The world's yearly contributions to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority, along with contributions from the World Bank and Israel, should more than cover the costs.

If UNRWA is not dismantled, and the refugee problem is not solved, the world will spend over $60 billion on the Palestinians in the next ten years.

Even with Brynen's most generous estimate, solving the refugee problem will cost the world half of what it is currently spending to maintain the refugee problem and perpetuate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Israeli Initiative — Chapter 10: The Attempts to Cut Off UNRWA

Not much has been done to eliminate UNRWA since its inception in 1949; the idea has been considered cruel and not "PC." However, as we've proven in previous chapters, keeping UNRWA alive is even crueler. The organization has made the refugees dependant on UNRWA, unable to lead independent lives, thus increasing their frustration. UNRWA also employs members of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Therefore, this agency plays a direct role in perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Recently, the United States and Canada have awakened, and members of these governments have called to reduce support of UNRWA.

In September 2009, Congressmen Mark Kirk (R-IL) Steven Rothman (D-NJ) proposed the UNRWA Accountability Bill, which was appended to the State, Foreign Operation and Related Programs Appropriations Bill — 2010. The Bill reads as follows:

"The Committee is cognizant of concerns over whether UNRWA is taking all reasonable steps to prevent United States assistance from supporting terrorists, terrorist organizations or other extremists, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza is operating in an open and transparent manner... Therefore, the Committee recommendation includes a provision (Sec. 7085) requiring the Secretary of State to submit an accountability report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 45 days after enactment of this act."

The report submitted by the Secretary of State must include whether UNRWA is

  • Continuing to use Operations Support Officers to inspect UNRWA installations and report inappropriate use
  • Dealing with any violations of its own policies (such as neutrality and impartiality of employees)
  • Continuing regular reporting to the State Department
  • Taking steps to improve the transparency of all educational materials in use in UNRWA-administered school
  • Continuing to use curriculum materials that promote tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution and human rights
  • Not engaging in operations with institutions in violation of relevant United States law and working to diversify its banking operations in the region

This language was introduced in H.R. 3081 amongst other requirements. The bill also put a special emphasis on textbooks used by UNRWA schools, that "include inflammatory and inaccurate information about the United States and the State of Israel, anti-Semitic teaching, as well as the glorification of terrorists." The bill calls upon the State Department to review the educational materials in UNRWA schools, and report on them to the Committees on Appropriations.
(For the full text of the bill, click:

The language including UNRWA accountability has been removed in the Senate version of this bill, S. 1434, authored by Senator Leahy (D-VT), and his bill has not yet passed in the Senate. This allows 400 million in US taxpayers' dollars to go to UNRWA without accountabiltiy as to whether it will be used for anti-American or even terrorist activity. This Senate Bill will supersede the progress made with H.R. 3081.

(For the full text of the bill, click:

In Canada, however, more concrete progress has been made. This week, the Jerusalem Post reported that Canada, which until now provided UNRWA with 11% of its budget, has allocated some of its usual donation to UNRWA to the Palestinian Authority justice system.

Victor Toews, president of Canada's Treasury Board, said that aid has been redirected from UNRWA "to specific projects in the Palestinian Authority that will ensure accountability and foster democracy in the PA." In the past, Canadian donations to UNRWA went into a general operating fund, making it difficult for Canada to monitor how funds were being used. Canada also refused to contribute directly to the Palestinian Authority's treasury, for reasons of accountability.

"It is obviously more difficult to monitor the use of money sent into general funds than specific projects," Toews explained. "Canada has made a $300 million [Canadian] commitment over five years to the Palestinian Authority, but we want to put that money only into programs that are consistent with Canadian values...We need to ensure that [the PA and UNRWA have] less wide discretion and the funds are being directed into specific projects."

Toews also told PA Minister of Planning and Administrative Development Ali a-Jarbawi that Canada's "paramount concern is the security of Israel."

The redirected money has been pledged towards training lawyers, judges and police and building courthouses in Ramallah, Hebron and Tulkarm. Canada is helping the Palestinian Authority build a criminal justice system, a step Toews sees as "integral to the process and to securing long-term peace and stability in the Middle East."
(For more information, see: here.)

While the Israeli Initiative does not agree with supporting the Palestinian Authority, it commends Canada on reducing its donations to UNRWA, the first step towards a lasting peace.


York Sorek is manager of The Israeli Initiative, the Right Road to Peace, a solution promoted by MK Benny Elon. It advocates a regional approach involving both Israel and Jordan to solve the Arab refugee problem.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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