Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Director of Research and Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq. and ZOA Director of Government Relations Dan Pollak released the following statement:
The ZOA praises sponsors Senator James Risch (R-ID), Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) and 41 Republican cosponsors for reintroducing companion bills S.431 (Feb. 15, 2023) and H.R.1022 (Feb. 17, 2023). (See Text; Senate cosponsors; and House cosponsors.) The bills call for, inter alia: withholding United States contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) unless UNRWA meets anti-terror and related conditions; implementing a plan for resettling “Palestine refugees” outside Israel and phasing out UNRWA; and ending the improper counting of descendants to expand and perpetuate “Palestine refugee” status ad infinitum.
UNRWA is the corrupt, terror-fomenting, bloated, Hamas-infested arm of the United Nations that deals with alleged “Palestine refugees.” UNRWA schools and textbooks teach Arab children to aspire to become “martyrs” by murdering Jews. UNRWA facilities have hidden Hamas weapons and terror tunnel entrances.
Conditioning Funding on UNRWA Ending Terror Incitement and Terror Ties: The Risch/Roy bills are well-designed to require UNRWA to completely overhaul itself and eliminate UNRWA’s terror ties and incitement. This is much-needed to curb the violence that UNRWA foments by teaching hatred of Jews, Israel and Americans in its schools and by storing weapons.
The bills would end U.S. funding of UNRWA until the U.S. Secretary of State submits a written certification that, among other conditions, no UNRWA official, employee, affiliate, etc. (i) “has propagated or disseminated anti-American, anti-Israel, or antisemitic rhetoric, incitement, or propaganda” (including promoting BDS, describing Israelis as “occupiers”; calling for Israel’s destruction; calling for a “right of return” – which would overrun Israel; advocating terrorist activity, violence, jihad and martyrdom; denying the Jewish people’s historic connection to Israel; and calling for violence against Americans); (ii) “is a member of, is affiliated with, or has any ties to a foreign terrorist organization, including Hamas and Hezbollah”; or (iii) “has advocated, planned, sponsored, or engaged in any terrorist activity.”
This Legislation Urgently Needs to Be Adopted Because Pres. Biden Resumed Funding to UNRWA: Former President Trump rightfully cut and then ended sending U.S. funds to UNRWA. (See “Morton Klein: Trump Wisely Ends U.S. Funding to UNRWA,” Breitbart, Sept. 6, 2018; and “Trump Gets UNRWA Right,” by Elliott Abrams, Council for Foreign Relations, Jan. 17, 2018.) Unfortunately, in April 2021, soon after taking office, President Biden resumed funding UNRWA. Shortly afterwards, in May 2021, Hamas launched 4,600 rockets at Israel, killing Israeli civilians (and Gazan civilians with misfired rockets). ZOA believes that this was not coincidental.
Concerningly, in July 2022, President Biden announced yet another $201 million of U.S. taxpayer funding to UNRWA, thereby “cement[ing] the United States’ status as UNRWA’s largest donor. . . [and] bring[ing] the total United States assistance to UNRWA during the Biden Administration to more than $618 million.”
Implementing a Plan to Phase Out UNRWA and Resettle “Palestine Refugees” Outside Israel: The separate UN agency that deals with all other world refugees promptly resettles those refugees and ends conflicts. By contrast, UNRWA does not resettle “Palestine refugees” in new countries. Instead, UNRWA deliberately perpetuates “Palestine refugee” status indefinitely (for 75 years as of now), to serve as a continuing encampment for warring against Israel. The Risch/Roy bill addresses this issue, by calling for a comprehensive plan for phasing out UNRWA and for “resettling Palestinians in countries other than Israel or territories controlled by Israel in the West Bank [Judea/Samaria] in accordance with international humanitarian principles.”
Ending UNRWA’s Absurdly Broad Definition of “Palestine Refugee”: The Risch/Roy bills also limits the definition of “Palestine refugee” to: persons who resided in what was then Mandatory Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948; and were personally displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict”; and have “not accepted an offer of legal residency, status, citizenship, or other permanent adjustment in status in another country or territory.”
The Risch/Roy bills would thus end UNRWA’s absurd, uniquely broad, perpetual definition of “Palestine refugees,” which includes descendants, and people who have long since resettled elsewhere. No other refugees in the world are able to pass refugee status on to descendants. No other refugee definition includes persons who have resettled in new homes and countries.
Notably, many of UNRWA’s “Palestine refugees” are descendants of individuals who never had a permanent home in Israel and didn’t even qualify as refugees to begin with. Original “Palestine refugees” were only required to live or work in Israel during a 2-year period (1946-1948), and many hailed from other countries (Egypt, Syria, Algeria, etc.). All other refugees in the world are required to have had a permanent home in the place they left.
There was also enormous fraud in refugee numbers from the outset: According to British figures, in 1947, only approximately 561,000 Arabs lived in the area that became Israel, and a significant number of those remained in Israel. Only about 367,000 Arabs left Israel in 1947-1949. (See Shmuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, pp. 23-27, and sources cited therein.) Yet, the initial UNRWA rolls (in 1950) magically included 957,000 people – approximately 600,000 more than the total number of Arabs that left Israel. That’s because virtually anyone could register as a Palestine refugee, without proof.
UNRWA’s fraudulent overstatements have continued – even after taking into account UNRWA’s uniquely broad definition of refugees. People apparently remain on UNRWA’s refugee rolls who have died, moved, were double-counted or don’t exist. For example, in 2017, a census conducted by Lebanon’s Central Administration of Statistics and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that UNRWA listed 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon when there were only 175,000 living there. UNRWA is still fraudulently listing 479,000 registered Palestine refugees in Lebanon as of 2022.
Due to UNRWA’s “refugee numbers inflation” via counting descendants and fraud, as of January 2023, UNRWA now absurdly claims to have 5.9 million registered “Palestine refugees.” However, a secret Obama-era U.S. State Department report found that, as of approximately a decade ago, there were only about 20,000 persons with some sort of conceivable claim to Palestine refugee status. That number would obviously be significantly lower today. UNRWA’s bloated 30,000 staff members (many of whom have terror group affiliations) far exceed the miniscule number of potentially legitimate “Palestine refugees.” (See also “The Orwellian Math of Palestinian Refugees,” by Morton Klein, Breitbart, Aug. 10, 2018.)
“Palestine refugees” are also not legitimate because they (or rather their great-great grandparents) left Israel voluntarily (at the behest of the Arab league), and were not driven out of their homes. Israel urged the Arabs to remain in Israel.
The U.S. needs to discontinue being the largest funder of this dangerous travesty.