The Palestinians are blackmailing Washington, claiming that a new amendment to a bill before Congress would prevent them from making a peace deal with Israel. The amendment calls for a true accounting of how many Palestinians fled Israel during the Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. The amendment was recently passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, and mandates that the Secretary of State must report how many of the Palestinians serviced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency fled Israel and how many are only their descendants.
The amendment itself was a watered down version of the original proposal from Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, which would have also ordered a count of how many of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza were citizens of another country. As Joan Peters revealed in her landmark work,From Time Immemorial, the great majority of those calling themselves Palestinians in 1948 were in reality citizens from surrounding states. Jonathan Schanzer, a researcher for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, estimated that the number of living refugees in 1948 was about 30,000 people, as opposed to the several million estimated by UNRWA.
Unsurprisingly, Kirk’s idea was shot down by the Palestinian-supporting Obama administration.
One GOP Senate aide said that exploding the “UNRWA myth” of millions of refugees in 1948, which stands in stark contrast to the much smaller real number, would help resolve a major issue in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. “In the end you will find a very manageable problem with practical solutions,” he said. “This is a dramatic stop in what has been maybe the thorniest and most difficult challenge to Middle East peace.”
The aide also said that Congress was obligated to track where taxpayer money is spent, and the amendment was trying to “provide oversight” to the millions of dollars in funding the US provides UNRWA.
The Palestinians, panicked that the fig-leaf of their mythic numbers would be stripped away, reacted angrily: Ghaith Al- Omari, a former foreign policy advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas now with the American Task Force on Palestine, said, “It’s very dangerous. It can have a very bad reaction on the ground. It will just make any US ability to push for a responsible solution suspect in the eyes of the Palestinians and refugees in particular.”
And the Obama Administration, which has never been friendly to Israel, huffed and puffed about the morality of taking a hard look at the evidence.
Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging rejection of the amendment: “This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the status of this sensitive issue for decades. Final-status issues can and must only be resolved by the Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations.”
When it comes to the Palestinians, the Obama Administration has no interest in the truth of history.