Thursday, December 08, 2022

One aspect of the war between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved: the continuing humanitarian crisis facing descendants of Arab refugees from 1948, who wallow in UNRWA refugee facilities under the notion of “return” to villages which no longer exist.

To that end, the Center for Near East Policy Research, has launched The UNRWA Reform Initiative (U.R.I.) to facilitate a policy change in UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

While UNRWA long ago adopted the logo of “Peace Starts Here,” UNRWA’s schools educate half a million students with the notion that they must prepare to take back their homes in what is now Israel—by force of arms.

It is wrong to think that only the UN General Assembly can change such UNRWA programs. UNRWA operates under directives from 38 donor nations, who could pull on the purse strings to ask that UNRWA programs reflect an agenda of peace and reconciliation. The U.R.I. is asking legislators of all donor nations to ask that UNRWA funding be predicated on a change in UNRWA policies. In reality, every citizen of every donor nation can take the initiative to reform UNRWA, by asking each respective legislature to ask that UNRWA:

1. Not use texts or teachers that encourage children to engage in acts of war.

2. Stop support for designated foreign terrorist entities such as Hamas.

3. Cease promotion of the “right of return” through “armed struggle.”

4. Adopt internationally accepted UNHCR definitions of a “refugee” and not to bequeath refugee status on descendants of refugees from 65 years ago.

With these goals in mind, the Center for Near East Policy Research will dispatch experts to conduct high-profile briefings for legislators of nations that fund UNRWA, so that policy makers of donor nations will become aware of the UNRWA war education curriculum that should not continue. At a time when the whole world discusses possibilities of peace in the Middle East, this is one aspect of Middle East peace that can be resolved.

David Bedein is director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.

By David Bedein

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