Rewriting UNRWA: The US-Israeli Plan to cancel out the Palestinian Right of Return (An excerpt)

Palestine Update 549

Rewriting UNRWA: The US-Israeli Plan to cancel out the Palestinian Right of Return (An excerpt)
Ramzy Baroud

UNRWA educates Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gazaand the West Bank (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

Palestinians are justifiably worried that the mandate granted to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, might be coming to an end. UNRWA’s mission, which has been in effect since 1949, has done more than provide urgent aid and support to millions of refugees. It was also a political platform that protected and preserved the rights of several generations of Palestinians.

Though UNRWA was not established as a political or legal platform per se, the context of its mandate was largely political, since Palestinians became refugees as a result of military and political events – the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by Israel and the latter’s refusal to respect the Right of Return for Palestinians as enshrined in UN resolution 194 (III) of December 11, 1948.

“UNRWA has a humanitarian and development mandate to provide assistance and protection to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight,” the UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of December 8, 1949 read. Alas, neither a ‘lasting solution’ to the plight of the refugees, nor even a political horizon has been achieved. Instead of using this realization as a way to revisit the international community’s failure to bring justice to Palestine and to hold Israel and its US benefactors accountable, it is UNRWA and, by extension, the refugees that are being punished.
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A new settlement plan in Haifa threatens a historic church with extinction

The Israeli occupation authorities announced Wednesday evening a new settlement plan in the city of Haifa, inside the occupied Palestinian territories of 1948.

The new settlement plan aims to destroy the identity of a historical church in Haifa and hide its features by setting up multi-storey buildings in its surroundings, which leads to the church losing its ancient buildings and to its extinction. We rejected the scheme three times over the past two years because of its threat to the historic Maronite Church, which is one of the most important historical and cultural monuments and sanctities in Haifa” Orwa Sweitat, a member of the Historic Buildings Preservation Committee, said.

Last March, the Israeli occupation authorities announced a settlement plan in the Negev region in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 with the aim of seizing more Palestinian lands to establish new settlements and expand others established in the aforementioned area.

Some 600 Palestinians held by Israel without charge, group says
So-called administrative detainees are held based on ‘secret evidence’, and are held for renewable six-month periods

Israel is holding about 600 Palestinian detainees without charge or trial, the highest number since 2016, an Israeli rights group said. HaMoked, an Israeli rights group that regularly gathers figures from prison authorities, said on Monday that as of May there were 604 detainees held in administrative detention. Nearly all are Palestinians, as administrative detention is very rarely used against Jews.

So-called administrative detainees are arrested on “secret evidence”, unaware of the accusations against them, and are not allowed to defend themselves in court. They are usually held for renewable six-month periods that often lead to years in detention. While Israel says the procedure allows authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, critics and rights groups say the system is widely abused and denies due process.

HaMoked said 2,441 Palestinians are currently serving sentences after being convicted in military courts. A further 1,478 detainees are being held for questioning, have been charged and are awaiting trial, or are currently being tried.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest figures.

Jenin: How the city became a symbol of Palestinian resistance
Palestinians say Jenin has always been a hub for Palestinian resistance groups, despite ongoing Israeli attempts to stamp them out.
Months ahead of the 20th anniversary of the April 9, 2002 Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli operations and arrests in and around the occupied West Bank city of Jenin were on the rise. On the day of the anniversary, Israeli forces launched a large-scale raid on the camp, located in the heart of Jenin city. As Palestinian fighters responded, the raid culminated in two hours of heavy-street fighting that left one Palestinian fighter dead and 13 others wounded.

The escalation brought back memories of deadly confrontations that took place 20 years ago, when an Israeli ambush on the camp killed at least 52 Palestinians, including women and children, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigation. There were also 23 Israeli soldiers killed and several others injured. That day, 20 years ago, marked a turning point for Jenin – the city and the camp – making it a symbol of resistance for Palestinians.

“There are two places in Palestine that Israel has never been able to fully conquer – Jenin and Gaza,” Diana Buttu, a Palestinian political analyst and lawyer told Al Jazeera. “That’s why Israelis try to bring down the people of Jenin and Gaza… time and time again, but it’s never worked,” she added.