Haaretz: "Has Trump Gone Too 'Pro-Israel' and Anti-Palestinian Even for Israel's Own Leaders?"

Chris Menahan
Sep. 03, 2018

President Trump is so "pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian" it's making Israel's leaders uncomfortable, according to a column in Haaretz.

Seraj Assi writes in Haaretz (Unwalled):
With Israel’s halfhearted blessing, the Trump administration has decided this week to end funding for the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), a move that could prove catastrophic for millions of Palestinian refugees.

The decision, which ends a decades-long U.S. support of the agency, has been widely denounced as a joint effort by the United States and Israel to exert pressure on the Palestinian leadership to accept Trump’s "deal of the century." Palestinians refer to it as a "death sentence" and downright blackmailing, "a flagrant assault" against the Palestinian people, and a collective punishment imposed on Palestinian refugees for political calculations.

By weakening UNRWA, both the Trump administration and the Israeli leadership seem to be under the perilous illusion that they could take the refugee question off the table. This is clearly a dangerous move, with far-reaching consequences for peace and stability in the region, especially in the vulnerable and poverty-stricken Gaza Strip, with its 1.3 million refugees.

The irony is that for many decades, Israel helped create, sustain and promote the UN agency.

By supporting the founding of UNRWA, the early Israeli establishment hoped that the agency would help integrate the refugees in their host countries, ultimately weakening their demands for return to their homes inside Israel. It also believed that creating a special UN agency devoted to Palestinian refugees was a necessary step to relieve Israel of the moral and financial burden of the refugee crisis, which Israel had created.
Assi says twice that the UNRWA was really just a pressure relief valve to help Israel ease its "moral and financial burdens":
The early Israeli establishment realized from early on that UNRWA was not created to solve the refugee crisis. If anything, it was solving Israel’s refugee crisis, ultimately easing its moral burden and financial implications.

While now and then Israeli leaders would go public and lash out at what they viewed as UNRWA’s anti-Israel bias, they were secretly supportive of it, even grateful for its existence. The current Israeli establishment seems to have forgotten that.

Donald Trump's disastrous decision to end funding to UNRWA will doubtless result in a huge financial gap that might endanger the agency’s existence. Israel, for obvious historical and political reasons, would be the most logical candidate to fill it.
Truly remarkable.

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