UNWRA: Time for a Rethink?
- This event has passed.
UNWRA: Time for a Rethink?
19 February @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
There are many reasons why the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians has foundered. One of the most contentious issues between the two sides has been “the Right of Return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel proper, and how many such people will be allowed to enter Israel as part of any peace deal. In recent years the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – which administers the Palestinian refugee programme rather than the UNHCR, which handles all other refugee cases – has come under increasing scrutiny due to concerns around its effectiveness and mandate at helping Palestinian refugees, rather than perpetuating their status.
Dr Einat Wilf argues that the special status reserved for Palestinian refugees – with refuges status uniquely cascading down the generations beyond the original refugees – can be problematic. As a politician from Israel’s Left, she has written extensively – most recently in her co-authored book with Adi Schwartz, “The War of Return” – that UNRWA prolongs refugee issues rather than acting to alleviate it. With the recent decision of the Trump administration to cease funding UNRWA, is it now therefore time to look at new alternatives to address the issue of Palestinian refugees which might lead to better humanitarian outcomes?
By kind invitation of Dr Matthew Offord MP, The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to join Dr. Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz for an in depth discussion on UNRWA during which they will address questions regarding whether UNRWA is fit for purpose and deserving of special status within UN agencies; if there is a case of applying the UNRWA model to more recent refugee cases, such as Syrian refugees in Europe, if it is deemed to still be viable; and whether UNRWA is perpetuating the fundamental nature of the conflict rather than offering a path for progress and resolution.
Dr. Einat Wilf is a leading intellectual and original thinker on matters of foreign policy, economics, education, and Israel and the Jewish people. She is considered one of Israel’s most articulate representatives on the international stage. Her opinion articles are regularly published in international publications and she is frequently interviewed for television and radio programs around the world. She was a member of the Israeli Parliament from 2010-2013 on behalf of the Labor and Independence parties.
Dr. Wilf has a BA in Government and Fine Arts from Harvard University, an MBA from INSEAD in France, and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Cambridge. Born and raised in Israel, Dr. Wilf served as an Intelligence Officer in the Israel Defense Forces.
Adi Schwartz is a writer, academic and researcher, focusing on issues relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the author of the best-selling book “The War of Return” (in Hebrew, 2018, Kinneret publishing house), together with Einat Wilf.
Schwartz is an expert on the Palestinian refugee problem and the history of Jews from Arab countries. He is currently writing his PhD dissertation in the department of Political Science in Bar-Ilan University. He has a BA in History from Tel Aviv University, and an MA (with distinction) in Political Science from Bar-Ilan University.
He is a published author in both English and Hebrew. A former staff writer and senior editor for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he has published articles in the Israeli press, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The Forward, The Tablet and The Jewish Chronicle.
He speaks on US campuses as well as to overseas delegations visiting Israel. He is an official instructor of the Ministry of Education on the issue of Jews from Arab countries, and appears frequently on TV. He is a Fellow at the Center for International Communications in Bar-Ilan University.
On Tuesday 19th February, we were delighted to bring together Dr Einat Wilf, Adi Schwartz, Dr Matthew Offord MP and Ellie Green for a heartfelt discussion on the UNWRA’s and the UK’s involvement in Palestine.
Dr Wilf opened her talk by stating that they were there as political peacemakers from the left. She questioned why it is after repeated opportunities and repeated discussions peace has not been forthcoming. In her opinion it seems that it’s been a divide of territory, borders and occupation versus foreign invaders and European colonists. The Palestinians consider themselves refugees, and this was the trigger point to delve further and analyse what is actually meant by the term ‘refugee’. In Dr Wilf’s view, the Palestinians cannot be refugees as the war ended 70 years ago – they believe that Palestine is not their home because it is their belief that Israel is their rightful land. She furthered this point by analysing that if this is their belief, then they have not truly accepted that this is not Arab land and they will continue to fight.
How can you negotiate with someone who wants you to die? Dr Wilf believes that the Palestinians coming to the table with such a strong violence leaves no room for negotiation and that they need to approach differently for a resolution. All the Israelis want, she continued, is to know they can live in peace within their outnumbered presence in the Middle East. They want to know that there is no threat to their settlement, that they are accepted and their language is a sister language, at which point negotiation of land becomes easier. She feels that Westerners are under the impression that Palestinian leaders have accepted the two state solution, but the only ones she believes they are willing to accept are the West Bank and an Arab state that will replace Israel.
Dr Wilf finalised her comments by concluding that a message needs to be sent by the West, by the UK, that they will not fund the Palestinians who are not in need if Israel and Palestine are ever to have peace.
Adi Schwartz explained how the problem of UNWRA has been brushed aside and that the sheer volume of refugee figures is creating a problem. He believes that if they are desperately poor and in need then of course the UK government can fund them, but there needs to be a differentiation. They are not content with settling in the Gaza strip, they want to be in Israel and have that as Arab land which does not make them refugees. Schwartz stated that 90% of those claiming to be should not actually be considered as refugees which brings in a lot of legal issues.
He brought up the ideas of reforming UNWRA, but concluded that this organisation cannot be reformed, it must instead be stopped and help given via other means. It will never be a United Nations organisation the way we understand it.
Dr Matthew Offord MP summarised the talk with comments of his own from what is going on in Parliament, stating that funding has been increased by 5 million and that UNWRA is not irrelevant but in fact very dangerous and he views it with a great deal of concern.
The prewar history of the Japanese intelligence community is an indictment of the effects of power and bureaucratic arrogance without … Continued
From the early 1970s, the three regions of Taiwan, Mainland China and Hong Kong have experienced divergent democratic fortunes, as … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society is hosting an invitation-only roundtable discussion with His Excellency Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, Ambassador of the Republic … Continued
A decade ago this week, Sergey Magnitsky died in a Russian prison having uncovered a US$230 million tax fraud committed … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society and the British-Korean Society are delighted to invite you to the invitation-only roundtable with … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to an invitation-only roundtable on the topic of “Deepening understanding of … Continued
On 7 September, Russia released 35 Ukrainian individuals from prison. These included the 24 sailors Russia illegally detained in the … Continued
How is the US Government tackling Anti-Semitism? With growing concern over Islamist extremism, Far-Left hate speech against Jews and the … Continued
Russia has been at war with Chechnya twice since 1991, and Chechnya has been involved with the gravest of national … Continued
Vibrant international engagement has often been suggested to have gone out of the proverbial window in modern nation-state geopolitics. Indeed, … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to the invitation-only roundtable discussion with Mihoko Matsubara, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist, … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to the invitation-only roundtable discussion with His Excellency Erlan Idrissov, Ambassador … Continued
President Donald Trump’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy and the uncertainty caused by Brexit have led to a period of … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to this invitation-only workshop on Vietnam, the Indo-Pacific and Global Britain. … Continued
With yet another closely contested Israeli election having just concluded, and coalition-forming prospects looking confused, it is an appropriate time … Continued
As the 21st century continues, it has become increasingly apparent that humanity is operating within a constantly shifting and multi-polar … Continued
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to the invitation-only roundtable discussion with Admiral (Ret’d) Chen Yeong-Kang ‘Taiwan’s … Continued
These days the world is facing an unprecedented wave of violent extremism by non-state actors of various stripes. The causes … Continued
2019 marks the ten years of the launch of the Eastern Partnership initiative. Although the initiative has provided the necessary … Continued
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union in the June 2016 referendum on EU membership has generated fierce debate … Continued
It is important to discuss what drives social and economic exclusion among British Muslim women. Levels of female unemployment continue … Continued
How is the US Government tackling anti-Semitism? With growing concern over Islamist extremism, Far-Left anti-Zionism and the rise of Neo-Nazi … Continued
The UK has suffered at the hands of far-right terrorism in recent times. This includes the killing of Labour MP … Continued
Everyone knows that populism in the US and UK today is rooted not only in resentment toward elites but also … Continued
According to Elif Shafak, culture and literature matters. It becomes especially relevant in the age of populism, pessimism and political … Continued
The unfolding crisis in Venezuela represents a major challenge not only for the country’s citizens, but also for the international community. … Continued
As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the events culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4th 1989, it is important to note … Continued
As the strategic environment changes, planning for state-on-state military confrontation has re-emerged. Non-state actors – perhaps assisted by revisionist powers … Continued
The BJP had an impressive victory in the 2019 General Election, emerging as the single largest party garnering more vote … Continued
In the twenty-five years after 1989, the world enjoyed the deepest peace in history. In The Rise and Fall of … Continued
In recent times, national populism has been on the march in much of the Western world. 2016 was a year … Continued
Twenty years after NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, the Western Balkans countries are beset by economic, political, and social uncertainty. The … Continued
In light of the publication of the Modernising Defence Programme in December 2018, which recognised the emergence of a more … Continued
The relationship between Russia and the West is once again deep in crisis. A major reason for this is that … Continued
The special relationship is under strain. President Donald Trump’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy together and the uncertainty caused by … Continued
On March 29, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 2367 on sexual violence in conflict. Questions have been raised, … Continued
In late 2013, the People’s Republic of China began building and fortifying islands across a number of reefs in the … Continued
The Wealth Effect: How the Great Expectations of the Middle Class Have Changed the Politics of Banking Crises
The rising wealth of middle class households and voters has transformed the politics of banking crises. At this event, Jeffrey … Continued
In the state elections in December 2018, the big loser was the BJP, which had won 62 of 65 Lok … Continued
Belarus has received increased international attention over recent years, much of which has focused on Russia’s ambitions towards the country. … Continued
With returning IS fighters and uncertainty over Brexit, concerns surrounding human rights, civil liberties and national security have never been … Continued
Putin’s Hostages: Ukrainian Political Prisoners of the Kremlin is a documentary about the roughly 70 Ukrainians political prisoners incarcerated … Continued
In the eyes of many, the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is diminishing. With peace talks … Continued
Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s 29th Prime Minister, on ‘Preserving the Freedom of the Asia Pacific’
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to host Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Former Australian Prime Minister, for a special event chaired … Continued
Five years ago next month, Russia annexed Crimea in the first forcible annexation of the territory of a European country … Continued
Western liberalism is under attack, not only at home also but from newly-emboldened authoritarian states abroad. Across the West, states … Continued
Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of Britain and other Western societies: thriving cities versus the provinces, the … Continued
Though mankind has traded tangible goods for millennia, recent technology has changed the fundamentals of trade, in both legitimate and … Continued
China’s Belt and Road strategy is acknowledged to be the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age. Covering almost seventy countries by land … Continued
Why Middle Eastern Jewish Refugees Are Key to Understanding and Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict
Jews lived continuously in the Middle East and North Africa for almost 3,000 years. But in just 50 years, indigenous communities … Continued
India and Turkey were the two exemplars of twentieth-century ‘secular states’ outside of the West. Professor Sumantra Bose believes that … Continued
The political events of recent years have sent shockwaves throughout the established order of Western liberal democracies. Election after election … Continued
Prof. Andrew Lambert’s new book, Seapower States examines how Britain and four other seapowers used their special identities to inform … Continued
Dave Rich’s updated edition of The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism (2018) contends that antisemitism is a … Continued
Moneyland is the secret country of the wealthy and unscrupulous, the place where they put their assets, their children and … Continued
The Afghanistan War has now lasted for 17 years, and estimates suggest has cost the US government upwards of $750 … Continued
The Middle East remains one of the most tumultuous regions in the world today, with its many ethnic and religious … Continued
The past 18 months have seen an immense amount of economic, diplomatic, and even military activity relating to the Korean … Continued
As one of al-Qaeda's most respected bomb-makers, Aimen Dean rubbed shoulders with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and swore … Continued
The most dangerous threat we face today is no longer military, but rather the increasingly pervasive exposure of our personal … Continued
SPEAKER: Professor Carl Minzner, author, End of an Era China’s reform era is ending. Core factors that characterised its political stability, … Continued
SPEAKERS: His Excellency Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano - The Argentine Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Dr. Shimon Samuels - … Continued
SPEAKERS: Dr Michael Green - Author of By More Than Providence and Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair … Continued
In the midst of some great changes in the international system, countries have been left with the qaundry of how … Continued
SPEAKER: Eliot Higgins, Founder of Bellingcat The destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 shocked the … Continued
SPEAKERS: Humphrey Hawksley, author of Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the Asia-Pacific and the Strategy of Chinese Expansion ; Bill Hayton, Associate Fellow … Continued
PROFESSOR NIGEL BIGGAR, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Oxford University, in conversation with Douglas Murray The nation-state is … Continued
SPEAKER: EHUD OLMERT, former Prime Minister of Israel It’s been 10 years since the last meaningful peace deal was put … Continued
Whatever one’s feelings toward the outcome of the 2016 US elections, there can be no doubting the historic impact and … Continued
As Britain considers its relationship with Europe, European security has never been more precarious, with Russian revanchism on the rise … Continued
As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, geopolitics is returning to the European continent. Germany and France are squabbling … Continued