Status of Palestinian refugees

 

Sir, – The Ireland Israel Alliance would like to offer a counterbalanced view to your editorial on Palestinian refugees (January 7th).

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) was cut by a third in 2018 because it is regarded by many as an organisation whose sole raison d’être is to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee crisis and use it as a propaganda tool against Israel.

Why? There are two distinct refugee agencies run by the United Nations. The main agency, UNHCR, has resettled tens of millions of refugees around the world since the 1940s. Unrwa, a special agency created by the United Nations in 1949 that deals only with Palestinians, operates in such a way that ensures the Palestinian refugee issue can never be resolved.

Unlike the rest of the world’s refugees, Palestinian refugee status is hereditary and is passed onto children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Also, unlike those who come under UNHCR refugee status, Palestinians can do nothing to lose their refugees status, regardless of whether they settle in another country. A prime example is Jordan, where 2.2 million Palestinian refugees currently live, of which 1.6 million are already Jordanian citizens.

While the UNHCR services over 56 million refugees worldwide and has resettled tens of millions successfully, Unrwa serves 5.2 million Palestinian refugees and has not resettled a single one.

Why? Because Unrwa’s goal is not to resettle Palestinians, but to use the “right of return” as a political tool to overcome Israel by literally swamping the tiny state. In the words of Sakher Habash, one of the founding members of Fatah: “The refugee issue is the winning card which means the end of the Israeli state.”

Perhaps Ireland, instead of blindly pledging more money to Unrwa, could follow Switzerland’s example and review recent reports that Unrwa textbooks promote violence, martyrdom and racism, while encouraging children to view the entirety of Israel as Arab territory.

As it currently stands, Ireland is considered to be the most hostile country within Europe towards Israel – hardly conducive to our Government’s desire to be taken seriously as a peace-broker in the Middle East. – Yours, etc,

JACKIE GOODALL,

Ireland Israel Alliance,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – On December 22nd, 2018, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney announced an additional €2 million in funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA – a welcomed cash injection in response to US intentions of ending its UNRWA funding efforts.

However, Mr Coveney’s announcement came after his opposing stance on the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, which aims to ban imported goods from illegal settlements, such as those in the occupied West Bank. Estimated figures ranging between €500,000 and €1.1 million annually have been suggested as the worth of goods exported internationally from illegal Israeli settlements.

This week, an apartheid road opened in the West Bank separating Palestinian drivers from Israeli settlers divided by an eyesore of a wall running directly down the middle of its length.

The Palestinian side of the road diverts drivers from entering the city of Jerusalem and the other side comfortably links Israeli settlers to other illegal settlements and access to Jerusalem. Mr Coveney has been largely silent on this development. Maybe it is time for Mr Coveney to reflect on such apartheid practices experienced daily by the Palestinian people while he reads this letter comfortably in his car on the motorway to Dublin – the motorway he’s allowed to drive on. – Yours, etc,

DEREK LAFFAN,

Walkinstown, Dublin 12.