US aid cutoff to UN agency serving Palestinians is welcome news

The State Department announced Friday that the U.S. will end all aid to UNWRA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the U.N. body dedicated to serving Palestinian Arabs it designates as refugees. The action is a victory for justice, eventual peace and a wise use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

While the U.S. has spent billions of dollars over the past 70 years to support generation after generation of Palestinian Arabs, the Trump administration will eliminate its annual contribution of $360 million, marking a new, vital approach in U.S. foreign policy. American aid covered almost a third of UNWRA’s $1.1 billion annual budget last year.

After Arab nations rejected the 1948 United Nations partition plan for British-ruled Palestine, which divided the land between Arabs and Jews, Israel’s Arab neighbors mobilized their armies and invaded the new Jewish state of Israel in an effort to wipe it off the map. Miraculously, Israel won the war.

According to UNWRA, an estimated 750,000 Arabs fled their homes, many to neighboring countries. Using conventional wisdom, that number should now stand in the tens of thousands still alive some 70 years later.

However, UNWRA claims that today 5.3 million Arabs are eligible for its services, owing to an inconceivable definition exclusive to Palestinian Arabs, whereby refugee status extends to the descendants – the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – of the original refugees.

President Trump reportedly plans to recognize only 10 percent of these 5.3 million people as Palestinian Arab refugees.

If managed carefully, this policy and its follow-up provisions would constitute the only real opportunity to ensure prosperity for Palestinian Arabs, safety for Israel’s citizens and stability for the United States and its regional allies. 

The new U.S. policy exposes the absurdity of the perpetual, uninterrupted refugee population increases claimed by UNWRA. It will pour cold water on the idea of a “right of return,” the Palestinian Arab demand that any final status agreement afford 5.3 million Arabs the ability to flood Israel – a country of 8.8 million people, including an existing population of 1.8 million Arabs.

A sudden Arab population explosion in Israel is unacceptable, as it would end Israel’s status as the only Jewish state on the planet.

The U.S. decision could also spell the end for UNWRA, an agency responsible for implementing a lethal and violent educational curriculum that teaches hatred of Israel and urges children to become terrorists. UNWRA has been instrumental in radicalizing Palestinian Arab youth, selecting teachers that moonlight as Hamas terrorists and utilizing textbooks that call for the mass murder of Jews. 

Shuttering UNWRA would provide the international community with an opportunity to create a peaceful curriculum for UNWRA’s 500,000 existing students, who could be instructed to pursue professions that would enable them to support their families and help create more prosperous economies. 

The U.S. decision will also put significant pressure on Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which collectively house 60 percent of the so-called UNWRA refugees. For 70 years, Palestinian Arabs and their descendants in these countries have been denied citizenship and equal employment opportunities as a ploy to control their influence in society, limit their social contributions and maintain an excuse to continue hostilities against Israel. 

The U.S. policy shift and its potential successes will not come without major resistance and inevitable violence. But the move by the Trump administration will establish the framework for a long and difficult process for Palestinian Arabs, who must be willing to form new lives for themselves, similar to those created by the more than 850,000 Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Muslim-majority countries between 1948 and the mid 1970’s.

Ultimately, the U.S. could not continue to support a Palestinian Arab population that will eventually surge into the tens of millions and will not accept attempts by Israel’s neighbors to perpetuate a crisis that should have never reached this point.

Isi Stein is the founder of The Israel Files, a bilingual social media blog dedicated to issues related to Israel and the Middle East. He has previously contributed to The Jerusalem Post, Algemeiner and Elite Daily.