The 'Palestinians' are the only refugees ever to have their very own exclusive UN agency, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA).
Having UNRWA in charge of the 'Palestinians' and their welfare has always struck me as the equivalent of employing someone to paint the only house in town for an hourly wage, with the painter realizing that as soon as the job was completed, he'd be unemployed.
That explains why in the last 60 years, UNRWA has spent millions on the 'Palestinians' but they still live in refugee camps and have been encouraged to do so.
As Michael S. Bernstam puts it in an excellent article in Commentary, UNRWA is, in effect, underwriting a self-destructive Palestinian cycle of violence, internecine warfare, and a perpetual war against Israel. Here's a slice:
British Prime Minister David Cameron recently called Gaza a “prison camp.” Former President Jimmy Carter has called it a “cage.” At first glance, these characterizations of the Hamas-ruled province seem like rhetorical excesses designed to cast Israel in the role of the unjust jailer blockading the strip. But Cameron and Carter have got it right, in a way. Gaza is a totalitarian paramilitary camp at war with its neighbors and other Palestinians. It is a paramilitary camp because it is a unique type of refugee camp. The narrow confines of the 139 square miles of the Gaza district—surrounded by Israel to the north and east, Egypt to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west—feature eight separate Palestinian refugee camps, plus dozens of surrounding ghettos. Altogether, they combine the features of a refugee camp and a military camp and, cut off from the world, look to some extent like the cages Carter mentioned.
These camps were established in 1949 and have been financed ever since by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Yet far from seeking to help residents build a new and better life either in Gaza or elsewhere, UNRWA is paying millions of refugees to perpetuate their refugee status, generation after generation, as they await their forcible return to the land inside the State of Israel.
Though pundits and foreign-policy experts focus on the question of settlements or the current temperature of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, UNRWA’s institutionalization of refugee-cum-military camps is, in my view, the principal obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The chances of achieving peace and security in the Middle East will continue to be remote as long as UNRWA is, in effect, underwriting a self-destructive Palestinian cycle of violence, internecine warfare, and a perpetual war against Israel.
The core issue is a phenomenon we can call “refugeeism.” For 60 years, UNRWA has been paying four generations of Palestinians to remain refugees, reproduce refugees, and live in refugee camps. It is UNRWA that put them in refugee cages and watched the number of inhabitants grow. The Palestinian refugee population in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza has exploded from 726,000 in 1950 to 4.8 million in 2010. About 95 percent live under UNRWA care. The unprecedented nature of this guardianship is rooted in the unusual nature of this institution. UNRWA is a supranational welfare state that pays its residents not to build their own nation-state, for, were they to do so, they would forfeit their refugee status and its entitlements of cash, housing, health care, education, credit, and other largesse.
It is these perverse incentives above all that have undermined efforts to improve the lot of the Palestinian people, such as those measures aimed at fostering economic development in the West Bank undertaken by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Israeli government. If the international community truly wishes to serve the needs of the Palestinians and improve their lot, its first task would be the abolition of UNRWA.
Read the rest here.