PRC has issued a new report unraveling the historical and legal discrepancies of the “2021-2022 Framework for Cooperation with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)” signed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration on July 14.
Entitled “US-UNRWA Framework for Cooperation on Palestinian Refugees: Another Prelude to Dismantle the Agency”, PRC’s report provides a close reading of the Framework and shows how it unravels its biased and dangerous implications on the Palestinian refugee cause.
The Framework claims that it includes multiple specific commitments to advance the Agency’s ability to deliver effective and efficient aid to Palestinian refugees through strengthened accountability, transparency, and consistency with UN principles, including neutrality.
However, in reality, the framework signals a reawakening of the US pro-Israel policy which seeks to liquidate the Palestinian refugee cause, deny Palestinians’ refugee status, and relocate them outside their homeland.
The report also indicates that the document includes signs of prejudice and partiality that strike at the foundations of the Palestinian refugee status. It stipulates that Palestinian refugees who had received military training be excluded from UN assistance under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
The real danger of the document is that it seeks to normalize a de-historicized definition of the Palestinian refugee status that might be adopted by other international organizations seeking to gradually undermine the historical and moral idiosyncrasies of the definition.
PRC has also warned that the US-drafted framework seeks to depoliticize the Palestinian refugee cause as no single reference is made to the right of return or the historical context of the issue. The document rather lays utmost emphasis on the US conditions to resume funding to the UNRWA, which gives the impression of guardianship or tutelage at a time when UNRWA struggles to keep its programmes running and delivering much needed assistance to vulnerable and marginalized Palestinian refugee communities.
The report links the pressure exerted on the UN Agency to the U.S. practice of linking aid to its foreign policy goals or pressure on human rights issues.
The Framework paralyzes the agency and weakens its underlying principle of autonomy. Humanitarian action must be kept away from any objective or actor that might manipulate its mission, divert its humanitarian trajectory, or turn its crises into bargaining chips.
The report also warns of the reference made in the US-UNRWA framework to local textbooks and educational materials, which raises concerns about attempts of brainwashing and curricula manipulation.
PRC believes that the fact that the Framework confesses that it does not constitute an international agreement and is legally non-binding is tantamount to an attempt to dodge international responsibility for any damages resulting from this agreement.
The report ends with a set of recommendations that call for serious action by UNRWA and the international community to disclose the malevolent intentions and unilateral nature of the agreement along with the ferocious politically-motivated campaigns that seek to ultimately erase the right of return of over 7 million Palestine refugees.