UNRWA: An institutional barrier to Middle East peace

A Paper by Jeremy Havardi

Director, B’nai B’rith UK’s Bureau of International Affairs

October 2020

Executive summary

UNRWA has lasted 70 years and failed to provide any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Instead, it has exacerbated the conflict by inflating the number of actual Palestinian refugees, encouraging the most extreme and unrealistic solutions to the conflict and perpetuating extremism and intolerance in its educational activities. Its promotion of the Palestinian right of return to Israel, a non-existent right in international law, directly contradicts the UK government‟s support for a two state solution. The connections between UNRWA and Hamas are deeply troubling given the government‟s commitment to proscribing the terror group and working towards co-existence while its educational curriculum has encouraged virulent racism against Israelis and Jews. No other refugee agency or organisation is so beset with such fundamental problems or is as deeply compromised as UNRWA. As a roadblock to peace and to any negotiated settlement in the region, the agency is no longer fit for purpose. British taxpayers are entitled to ask whether their money is being spent wisely or whether it is being misused to fuel an extreme agenda.

B’nai B’rith is an international Jewish organization committed to combating racial and religious intolerance. With its international head office in Washington DC, permanent offices at the United Nations and representation in 59 countries, it is the oldest, largest and most active global Jewish human rights organization in the world. B‟nai B‟rith raises concerns about the growth in antisemitism, promotes Israel‟s relations with foreign countries and stands for the rights of all minorities. The website of its UK branch is www.bnaibrithuk.org.

Jeremy Havardi is the Director of the advocacy branch of B’nai B’rith UK. He is a historian and journalist whose books include The Greatest Briton, Projecting Britain at War and Refuting the anti-Israel narrative. His articles have appeared in The Spectator, The Guardian, The Jewish News, The Gatestone Institute, Military History Magazine and many other publications. He lives in London and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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