Let the truth be known
By Laurence Morrell
I have a confession to make. This may come as a major surprise to everyone, but I strongly support the concept that all Palestinian Refugees have the Right of Return. Now before you get your panties in a wad let me clarify the term Palestinian Refugees.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, (UNWRA) is the designated agency to oversee the care of the Palestinian Refugees In the original U.N. Resolution 194, Article 11 dealing with the creation of the UNWRA, the definition used and accepted was “someone whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.” Please remember that this new U.N. agency was established and created to only deal with the Palestinians.
In 1948 there were an estimated 650,000 that fell into the scope of this definition of a refugee, by providing various types of assistance—food, housing, medical assistance, educational facilities. Then with a unilateral internal decision, the UNWRA dramatically expanded the concept of Palestinian Refugees to also include the “descendants of the original Palestinian Refugees.”
As a result of this unilateral change in the definition of “Palestinian Refugee” the number has swelled from an original estimate of 650,000 to a “claimed” number of over five million. Currently, the UNWRA has an annual budget of $600,000,000 to service this bloated population. Of this total, 40 percent comes from the United States or $240,000,000. It also employs more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
At the same time that the UNWRA was set up to deal exclusively with the Palestinian Refugees another organization was also established. This is The United Nations’ High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). This organization on the other hand is mandated to deal with all of the world’s refugee problems excluding the Palestinians. They currently supervise the welfare of more than 34,000,000 refugees with a staff of only 7,685. Their budget per refugee is half that of UNWRA.
Now, let’s get back to my original statement of supporting the concept of the Palestinian Refugees’ Right of Return. If we continue to use the original definition of a Palestinian Refugee, estimates made by the United States Department of State in 2012 is about 30,000 remaining from the original 650,000.
Now that creates a totally different picture. First, of the 30,000 how many would really want to return to their homeland without other family members who don’t qualify under this definition of Refugee?
Again, using the number of refugees as 30,000, look at the cost to the United States. The figure should be much less since there are so many fewer legitimate Palestinian Refugees .To date the United States has contributed more than four billion dollars to this effort.
I urge you to contact Secretary of State John Kerry and ask: Why? I urge you to contact your representative and senators in Washington and ask them: Why? Why do the Palestinians receive preferential treatment? Why should the United States spend so much money that could be better used domestically?
Laurence Morrell is a lifelong resident of Orlando.