[update below] [2nd update below] [3rd update below] [4th update below]
Jonathan Schanzer has a piece on the Foreign Policy website on language Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is trying to insert into the 2013 foreign appropriations bill that would require the US government to determine the exact number of Palestinians receiving services from UNRWA who are actual refugees—persons who were themselves displaced in 1948—, as opposed to descendants of refugees (successor generations of refugees not being defined as refugees in any international convention or instrument of international law). I can already hear the cris d’orfraie from the usual quarters, that this will undermine the sacrosanct Palestinian demand on the “right of return.” If this is the case, then so be it. In fact, this will be a very good thing. If Kirk’s effort only involves this—and not actually trying to have UNRWA cut benefits—then I’m all for it. I will come back to this general subject—on the dysfunctional Palestinian narrative on the right of return—at a later date (after the French election season is past). I have much to say about it, believe me.
In the meantime, here are my pics of two UNRWA camps on the West Bank.
UPDATE: The FP website reports on the opening debate in the Senate Appropriations Committee and with the actual text of Kirk’s amendment. (May 24)
2nd UPDATE: Josh Rogin at FP continues his reporting on the Kirk amendment, which unanimously passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 24th, and the State Department’s reaction. (May 25)
3rd UPDATE: As it turns out, the Kirk amendment was in part based on work carried out by Steven J. Rosen—ex-AIPAC honcho—and Daniel Pipes. Not my cup of tea either one—and definitely not the latter—but I don’t care. I still think it’s a good amendment. (May 29)
4th UPDATE: Victor Kattan, program director at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, says that the “‘UNRWA reform’ effort will harm Middle East peace effort.” (May 31)