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Trump prepares to defund UNRWA if PLO-Israel negotiations don’t resume

By David Singer - posted Wednesday, 10 January 2018

China donated US$300000, Indonesia US$5000 - whilst only 9 of the 22 members of the Arab League donated to UNWRA and their contributions (apart from Saudi Arabia) totalled US$31 million.

UNRWA is doing nothing to relieve itself of its ongoing financial liability and responsibility for an ever increasing number of refugees – who comprise:

1. those persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period from 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israel War. ("Qualifying Refugees")


2. the descendants of male Qualifying Refugees, as well as their legally adopted children.

Palestine refugees constitute the only group of refugees in the world whose descendants can claim refugee status long after the death of their refugee ancestors. Their numbers have increased from 750000 in 1950 to 5 million in 2017.

UNRWA could reduce this ever-burgeoning number of refugees by closing many refugee camps in the West Bank like Dheisheh – which UNRWA states:

was established in 1949 and is located along the main street in Bethlehem. The camp was built to serve 3,000 refugees. Today, the number of residents in Dheisheh has reached roughly 15,000.

UNRWA acknowledges that Dheisheh has been "under full Palestinian control (Area A)" since the 1995 Oslo Accords.

How can Dheisheh's residents then continue to be classified as "refugees" when they are being governed by the PLO – the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" – along with 200000 other Palestinian Arabs living side by side with them as their next door neighbours?


Shouldn't Dheisheh's four schools, one health centre, Shams Health Centre for Non-Communicable Diseases and the Environmental health office be open to all Bethlehem residents - and the 15000 Dheisheh residents taken off the UNRWA refugee register and absorbed into the Palestinian Arab population of Bethlehem?

UNRWA keeps Dheisheh open in apartheid-style segregation from Bethlehem - causing ongoing stress, suffering and dependency on its hapless residents.

Political – rather than humanitarian – concerns dominate UNRWA's agenda preventing the closure of Dheisheh and other similar humanitarian eye-sores in the West Bank.

No wonder most countries contribute precious little to UNRWA. America seems set to emulate their example – especially if Israel/PLO negotiations aren't resumed.

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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