Thursday, February 04, 2021

UNRWA and the Pals Are Baaack in the State Department

A version of this was published at JNS.


At the State Department Press Conference of February 2, there was a question (and I have added underlines of important items)

I’m Said Arikat with Al-Quds daily newspaper. Sir, I wanted to ask you very quickly, last Tuesday, U.S. envoy to the United Nations told the Security Council that the United States is going to restore aid to UNRWA, the work and relief agency, and will probably open the consulate in East Jerusalem as well as reopening the office here in Washington for the Palestinians. My question to you: Is there a timetable, one? And on UNRWA aid, considering that the United States was the largest contributor – so will that be retroactive? I mean, that’s close to like $900 million since 2018.

Retroactive? Those funds were withheld because of bad management, anti-Semitic promotion and terror-support that was confirmed in reports

And the answer was

The United States does intend to restore humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. We’re not doing that as a favor, but because it’s in the interest of the United States to do so. Globally, our humanitarian assistance provides critical relief, such as emergency food assistance, health care, education. And the suspension of aid to the Palestinian people has neither produced political progress nor secured concessions from the Palestinian leadership. Of course, it has only harmed innocent Palestinians.

The United States will reinvigorate our humanitarian leadership and work to galvanize the international community to meet its humanitarian obligations, including to the Palestinian people.

As for "innocent", let's leave that to the Hamas recrutiment agencies. But what interest is it to for the United States to continue a fiction (millions of refugees), to enable a non-productive economy (relying on aid handouts instead) and to ignore the Palestinian Authority's continued policies of anti-normalization, diplomatic rejectionism, denouncing the Abraham Accords (see next question) as well as continuing terror incitement?

And then Nicholas Wadhams of Bloomberg asked

are you prepared to give the previous administration credit for the Kosovo-Israel deal, for the other Abraham Accords? 

To which Ned Price replied

When it comes to the Abraham Accords and to your question, I believe this was something that Secretary-Designate Blinken has spoken to, and he has spoken to the Abraham Accords as something that was welcome during the previous administration, something that indeed we hope to build on. The United States will continue to urge other countries to normalize relations with Israel, and we’ll look for other opportunities to expand cooperation among countries in the region.

While we support normalization between Israel and countries in the Arab world, it’s also not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and that’s very important. We hope that as Israel and other countries in the region join together in a common effort to build bridges and create new avenues for dialogue and exchange, these efforts contribute to tangible progress towards the goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Nomalization is not a substitute, for sure, but without it, there definitely will not be peace.

In connection with that exchange, it would be good to review what Steve Postal has written:

the Biden administration is well on its way to reversing the significant gains in Middle East peace brokered by the Trump administration. By undermining the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel and strengthening the Palestinian Authority and Iran, the Biden administration will greatly undermine prospects of peace in the region. The Biden administration will likely undermine other current and potential normalization agreements through the following:

Weakening relations with the UAE

Strengthening Iran

Strengthening the Palestinian Authority

Potentially alienating Morocco

Potentially ignoring Indonesia

With the new people coming on board, and I hope have read, or will, Shany Mor's The Return of the Peace Processors, Daniel Greenfield on Maher Bitar and on Hady Amr and others, you will realize that there are stormy waters ahead.

^

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