Sept. 5, 2018
The number of Palestinians registered by UNRWA as refugees is at least four times inflated, Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Labor Knesset member who served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told The Israel Project on Tuesday.
Of the 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza, 1.4 million are registered by UNRWA as refugees. “Almost all of them have been born in Gaza and lived there all their lives. By now their parents have been born in Gaza. Their grandparents have been born in Gaza. And yet they claim to be refugees from Palestine. I think we can all agree that Gaza is Palestine.”
Of the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees that UNRWA currently services, 40% live in Jordan as citizens and enjoy full access to state services, including health and education. “So 80% of Palestinians east and west of the Jordan River are not even refugees,” Wilf said.
She added that attempts to appease Gaza through financial investments and economic initiatives have failed because the vast majority of Gazans don’t care about the future of Gaza. They see it “as a temporary” home, before they can resettle in what is now Israel.
UNRWA is “wholly devoted to one political goal, which is the goal of return,” Wilf said. “But return was established at the end of the [1947-49] war as the continuation of the war by other means.”