State Department Opposes Senate Measure to Accurately Count Palestinian Refugees
The State Department, which has typically stood against Israel in the Arab-Israeli conflict, today tried to oppose a Senate measure that would require the State Department to report how many actual Palestinian refugees US aid was helping, as opposed to descendants of Palestinian refugees.
The Senate amendment was sponsored by Mark Kirk (R-IL), and would reduce the number of people reported as Palestinian refugees from some 5 million to 30,000. A Kirk aide explained, “The amendment simply demands basic transparency with regard to who receives U.S. taxpayer assistance.”
The Senate passed the amendment through some procedural obstacles this morning. Opponents of the measure fear it will be the prelude to the US cutting funds to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). It’s not just the State Department opposing the measure; the government of Jordan is lobbying against it. As Jennifer Rubin points out:
A senior Senate aide tells Right Turn that Jordanian officials just sent an e-mail to congressional staffers urging opposition to any amendment that could lead to undermining the UNRWA. (The fear that an actual accounting would deprive the UNRWA of U.S. taxpayer dollars is reason enough to support it.) The request reads: “Jordan urges the Senate to avoid any language which would directly or indirectly lead to undermining UNRWA. The embassy will be happy to further explain the Jordanian position, observations and reservations to your office and other Senate members, including the potential negative implications on Jordan, its economy and the peace efforts by any language that undermines or purports to undermine UNRWA.”
Jordan is all for more funding for UNRWA, since large portions of UNRWA expenditures go to Palestinians living in refugee camps in Jordan – despite the fact that the vast majority of the Jordanian population is actually Palestinian.