Palestinian Authority Needs Reform

    • Restoring U.S. Funding to UNRWA – A Great Obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian Peace

    • Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz (Newsweek)

    • Reprinted from Daily Alert, April 15, 2021
    • By resuming U.S. funding for UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the Biden administration is choosing to fund an agency that is institutionally committed to ensuring that peace will never be possible. UNRWA, under the cover of providing social services to Palestinians, is giving political cover to the dream of undoing Israel by nurturing and legitimizing the demand to settle millions of Palestinians inside Israel.
      UNRWA is one of the greatest obstacles to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The vast majority of UNRWA refugees, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original refugees, are also citizens of other countries or living within territories governed by Palestinians, and so are not actually refugees and in no need of resettlement. UNRWA sustains many of them in perpetual limbo, in the elusive promise that they will one day be able to “return” to Israel.
      There are perfectly rational, humane and effective ways to provide public healthcare and education services to Palestinians without fueling the conflict with Israel. As long as Palestinians are indulged by the West in their belief that the war of 1948 remains an open case, there is zero possibility that peace will be achieved. It is hard to imagine a more anti-peace U.S. policy choice.
      Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Labor member of the Israeli Knesset, and Adi Schwartz, a former senior editor at Ha’aretz, are the co-authors of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream has Obstructed the Path to Peace. (Newsweek)
    • Is the U.S. Supporting Palestinian Dictatorship? – Khaled Abu Toameh
      A recent decree issued by PA President Mahmoud Abbas effectively turns Palestinian NGOs into government-controlled institutions. The organizations are now required to present to the PA government an “annual action plan and estimated budget.” This means that the organizations will be working for the PA.
      “This [decree] undermines the professionalism, independence and freedom of civic activity, including its monitoring role over the performance of the executive authority and its objective to hold this authority accountable for its violations,” several Palestinian civil society organizations said in a joint statement.
      Abbas is worried that Palestinian civil society organizations would criticize him or his government on the eve of the planned elections and hurt his (and his ruling Fatah faction’s) chances of winning. The U.S. is about to pump millions of dollars into Abbas’ coffers to help him cut off the emergence of new and young leaders and to help him maintain his authoritarian rule over the Palestinians. (Gatestone Institute)
    • See also Improved Vetting Is Key to U.S. Reengagement with Palestinian NGOs – Yona Schiffmiller (JNS)
    • Can Biden Fund the Palestinians without Breaking the Law? – Jonathan S. Tobin
      The 2018 Taylor Force Act – named for a non-Jewish American veteran who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel – mandates that no American funds can be transferred to the Palestinian Authority as long as it is paying pensions and salaries for convicted terrorists. The only exceptions are money allocated for hospitals, vaccines and water-treatment projects. The PA has not halted its terrorist subsidies, but the administration has announced a $235 million aid package for the Palestinians.
      $150 million will go to UNRWA, the UN refugee agency devoted solely to the Palestinians, which operates a vast number of institutions to support the millions who claim descent from the original 1948 refugees, including schools and food assistance. Another $75 million will go to economic development programs in the West Bank and Gaza, while yet another $10 million will go to “peace building” initiatives.
      The administration says these allocations won’t violate the Taylor Force Act since none of the money will go directly to the PA but to partner agencies that are supposedly independent of either the corrupt Fatah government in the West Bank or Hamas who rules Gaza. But as is well known, Palestinian NGOs have no real independence from their government.
      Moreover, the package clearly violates the intent of the Taylor Force Act since the money is fungible and allows the PA to spend other funds on supporting terrorists. Congressional intent was clear. No more American money was to go to the PA – let alone Hamas – so long as it was in the business of backing terrorism.
      The same reasoning was behind the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 by a Democratic-controlled Congress, which similarly banned any U.S. assistance to the PA if it had initiated an investigation into bogus charges of war crimes by Israel by the International Criminal Court. (JNS)
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