Palestine – End The West Bank Refugee Gravy Train

February 28, 2016 by David Singer
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With more than three million Syrians fleeing war-torn Syria seeking safe havens in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Europe – scarce United Nations resources continue to be used supporting and maintaining about 760,000 Palestinian Arabs currently living in the West Bank and registered as “refugees” with the United Nations Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA).Their refugee categorisation and status were changed on 3 January 2013 when PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas replaced the “Palestinian Authority” with the “State of Palestine” by this decree:

“Official documents, seals, signs and letterheads of the Palestinian National Authority official and national institutions shall be amended by replacing the name ‘Palestinian National Authority’ whenever it appears by the name ‘State of Palestine’ and by adopting the emblem of the State of Palestine.”

John Whitbeck – a legal advisor to the Palestinian team in negotiations with Israel – has written on the significance of this name change:

“In his correspondence, Yasser Arafat used to list all three of his titles under his signature — President of the State of Palestine, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority (in that order of precedence). It is both legally and politically noteworthy that, in signing this decree, Mahmoud Abbas has listed only the first two titles. The Trojan horse called the “Palestinian Authority” in accordance with the Oslo interim agreements and the “Palestinian National Authority” by Palestinians has served its purpose by introducing the institutions of the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine and has now ceased to exist.”

Abbas’s semantic ploy had left Israel without its designated negotiating partner under the Oslo Accords and had effectively ended negotiations for the creation a Palestinian State under the Bush Roadmap.

The institutions of the so-called “State of Palestine” had replaced the “Palestinian Authority” in some 40% of the West Bank designated under the Oslo Accords as Areas “A” and B”–   assuming full administrative control over 95% of the entire West Bank Arab population – including about 190,000 Palestinian Arab refugees living in 19 camps whilst the remaining 570,000 lived in towns and villages.

UNRWA funds:

  • 97 schools with 51,327 pupils
  • 2 vocational and technical training centres
  • 42 primary health centres
  • 15 community rehabilitation centres
  • 18 women’s programme centres

UNRWA explains:

“UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration. 

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance.” 

As of 14 September 2015 – 136 of the 193 United Nations member states have been playing the PLO name-game change and recognised the “State of Palestine”.

These 136 States now need to answer two questions:

  1. How can any person living in his own country still be classified as a refugee?
  2. Shouldn’t the 760,000 registered Palestinian Arab refugees living in the West Bank have their refugee status revoked and be resettled and fully integrated among their fellow Palestinian Arabs?

Claiming the trappings of Statehood – whilst segregating its citizens into two different classes -– is a recipe for continuing tension and future conflict.

Change the name – change the game – but be prepared to accept the consequences.

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International. 


8 Responses to “Palestine – End The West Bank Refugee Gravy Train”
  1. Rabbi Chaim Ingram says:

    David, I am absolutely with you. Indeed I have written with almost as much passion as you on the subject. I just didn’t recognise this legitimate usage of the term in your headline where context was missing, that’s all.

    My macheteiniste is a Palestinian. I can assure everyone there is no doubt about her Jewish credentials. She was born in Erets Yisrael in 1947.

    • david singer says:


      I am happy I have explained my position to your satisfaction.

      You have hit the nail on the head with the reference to your macheteiniste.

      Obama and Kerry, the EU and the UN are happy to deal with racists and apartheid-practitioners like the PLO who see no place in “Palestine” for Jews – only Arabs.

      That is the real issue that has caused the failure of so many attempts to resolve the Jewish-Arab conflict for the past 100 years.

      Until the PLO is sent packing this sorry situation is set to continue – and Obama,Kerry the EU and the UN will wear the stigma of supporting a racist and apartheid regime under Mahmoud Abbas by whatever name he chooses to assume – “Palestinian Authority” or State of Palestine”.

  2. Rabbi Chaim Ingram says:

    A good article by David Singer – but I am mystified as to why he should play into our opponents’ hands by referring to Palestine in the title.

    • david singer says:


      I have used “Palestine” as part of the headline in over 500 articles published by me because I believe that the Jews have the proprietary interest in that name – not the Arabs.

      Guess you could almost compare it to two people claiming the rights to use the term “Coca Cola”

      It was “in Palestine” that the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted pursuant to the San Remo Conference, The Treaty of Sevres, the Treaty of Lausanne and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

      It was “in Palestine” that close settlement by Jews – not Arabs – was to be encouraged on the land including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

      It was “in Palestine” that 78% of the land designated for the Jewish National Home was postponed or withheld in 1922. It was such area “in Palestine” – in which no Jews only Arabs then lived – that was granted independence in 1946 and named the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan – becoming an exclusive Arabs-only State in the majority of the territory of “Palestine” .

      It was the remaining 22% of “Palestine” that the UN recommended be divided into a Jewish State and yet another Arab State – in addition to Transjordan – in 1947.

      It was in 1964 that the Arabs in the PLO Charter attempted to reclaim “Palestine” by introducing the term “Palestinians” for the first time – which definition excluded Jews who lived in “Palestine” and denied that Jews had any rights at all in any part of “Palestine”.

      Whilst the Charter correctly proclaimed – “Palestine with its boundaries at the time of the British Mandate is a regional indivisible unit.” – it falsely stated -“Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong national ties to the rest of the Arab Countries and which together form the large Arab homeland.”

      “Palestine” is also the successor name to “Eretz Yisrael” – renamed “Palestina” by the Romans – terms in use for centuries before the Arab conquest and illegal occupation in 640.

      “Palestine” is Jewish history, geography, archeology and demography and the area within which the Jewish State was reborn in 1948 after thousands of years of the Jews being in exile.

      Hope you might now appreciate why the term “Palestine” cannot be allowed to become the sole property of the “Palestinians” or the Arabs.

      Indeed we are playing into our opponents’ hands by not using the term “Palestine” and abandoning its use to our enemies to adopt and adapt as they please to further their own inimical interests.

  3. David Samson says:

    The answer to your question no. 2 is yes, via Syria to Germany where they are welcome in unlimited nunbers , and the sooner the better.

    • david singer says:


      I take your response to be tongue in cheek – but nevertheless your comment raises two interesting questions:

      1. Given the shrill cries of “victimhood, apartheid and ethic cleansing” by West Bank Arabs “suffering under the brutal Israeli occupation” – how come the West Bank Arabs have not joined millions of their Arab brothers in Syria undertaking the dangerous boat trip to Europe or even the softer and safer option of taking a one hour’s drive next door to neighbouring Jordan to find a better life?

      2. Has the West Bank refugee gravy train provided by UNRWA for the last 67 years proved too attractive for the West Bank Arabs to give up?

      • David Samson says:

        David – thank you for you reply, of course the answer to your 2nd question is yes again. On reflection to my previous reply, a more practical solution has come to mind. I would like to see Bibi offer free one-way bus passes for the ride from Ramallah to Damascus but I doubt that Bob Hope would approve.

  4. Randy Rose says:

    Good point!

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