Powered by WebAds

Monday, May 28, 2012

Senate Appropriations Committee approves change in definition of 'Palestinian refugees'

The United States Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a change to the way that 'Palestinian refugees' are defined. The change, which was initiated by Senator Mark Kirk (R-Il), would limit 'refugees' to the actual number still alive who left Israeli territory in 1948-49. That amounts to about 30,000 people as compared with the UNRWA count of 5,000,000.
This enormous disparity is explained by UNRWA decisions in 1965 and 1982 that extended the definition of “refugees” to include the children and grandchildren of displaced Palestinians. Today, UNRWA’s annual budget stands at approximately $600 million, of which $250 million is contributed by the United States. Overall, America has contributed $4.4 billion to the UN agency since its establishment in 1949.

If the US Senate Appropriations Committee has its way, this may significantly change. On Thursday, the committee approved language that would distinguish between Palestinian refugees alive in 1948 and their descendants. The Kirk amendment to the foreign operations appropriations bill requires the US State Department to report within a year how many people receive aid from UNRWA who were themselves displaced and how many of them are descendants of those people. The former number, estimated at around 30,000, would be used as the basis for formulating US policy on Palestinian refugee issues.


The US State Department, which pledged an additional $10 million in UNRWA funding earlier this year, is also making noises opposing the measure. But Schanzer says “such grumblings will likely pale in comparison to the expected outcry in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Palestinian refugee camps in neighboring Arab countries.”

“The refugee narrative is a sacred one in Palestinian political culture. Palestinian leaders will not simply table it because Congress passes new legislation. Rather, it’s a fair bet they will mobilize. When UNRWA merely mulled a name change in July 2011, Palestinians organized protests and sit-ins. Proposing real changes to UNRWA could even prompt violence,” he says.
I'm not sure that the full Senate will pass this measure - in fact I'm surprised given its Democratic control that the Kirk amendment made it past the Appropriations Committee. But we can always hope, because if the Senate passes it, the House certainly will.

What are the odds that Obama vetoes legislation that drastically cuts the number of 'Palestinian refugees' receiving benefits from the United States during a US election year with the US economy in the toilet? Heh.


Beirut's Daily Star has a slightly different version of this story (Hat Tip: Asher G). Hmmm.

Labels: , , ,


At 12:10 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

well Carl, you obviously read the wrong newspapers

if you read the lebonese daily star you would know that the US senate is about to clissify 5 million palestinians as refugees


At 3:09 PM, Blogger Penguin Lover said...

The Daily Star simply points out that the statements coming out of the US State Department in response to the senate bill sound like support for the Pali claim. This isn't terribly surprising considering the USDoS has always enjoyed attaching their lips to Arab posteriors. Even more so lately under this 'pro-Israel' president. Notice this is the same USDoS that isn't quiet sure where Israel's capital might be, or for that matter whether any part of Jerusalem is within Israel. Fortunately, on this issue the USDoS will have to obey Congress to provide a count of refugees and 'refugees'. I am sure they will be kicking and screaming the whole time about potentially upseting the care bears of the religion of peace and undermining the 'peace process'.


Post a Comment

<< Home