Over the weekend, Israeli television reported that the US administration is planning to escalate its attacks on Palestinian refugees by not only explicitly rejecting their right of return but also by unilaterally redefining who constitutes a refugee so as to slash their numbers to just half a million.
Since then, US diplomat Nikki Haley has affirmed the US would only support the Palestinian refugees’ relief agency UNRWA if the organisation were to “change the number of refugees to an accurate account”.
It is now being reported that the Trump administration has decided to cancel all US funding to UNRWA. Read more
During his recent Middle East trip, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “In Jordan, I went to Baqa’a, one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps. We must work for a real two state settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ends the occupation and siege of Gaza and makes the Palestinian right to return a reality.”
UK-based pro-Israel groups were, to put it mildly, unimpressed. Read more
As with the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, US President Donald Trump surely had his electoral base in mind when deciding to slash funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which looks after Palestinian refugees.
Trump’s decision, however, can not be divorced from a long-standing Israeli animus towards the agency, whose current difficulties have been broadly welcomed by Israeli politicians – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups make two main arguments in their attacks on UNRWA: Palestinian refugees are “fake” and the UN agency “perpetuates” the conflict. Read more
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dismantling of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The call was unprecedented in terms of Israeli policy to date, and also marked an escalation in anti-UN rhetoric and steps by Israeli government officials.
Netanyahu, speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, revealed that he had discussed the need to dismantle UNRWA with US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley: “I told her it was time the United Nations re-examine UNRWA’s existence”, he said. Read more
On January 3, two Palestinians were removed from an Aegean Airlines flight from Athens to Tel Aviv, after Jewish Israelis claimed that they constituted a “security risk”. The incident made headlines worldwide. A month later, a Tel Aviv-based cleaning company sparked outrage with a flyer that priced its staff based on ethnicity. The story was also covered around the world.
For some, these kinds of episodes are proof of the racism that critics claim permeates Israeli society; for others, they are examples of isolated bigotry and idiocy. In fact, neither interpretation is quite right. While stories resonate and go viral, they can mask the fact that in Israel racism is the law. Read more