Tomorrow, Jan. 31, the European Union and Norway will convene in Brussels for another “emergency meeting of international donors to Palestine.” The conference will see a repeat of a pattern of behavior in which the richest countries in the world spill out hundreds of millions of dollars as a solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli government, which will be represented by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, expressed its support for emergency aid, recognizing that if the Gaza regime collapsed, it could cause another war. While the basic needs of Gaza’s civilian population, like electricity and potable water, are obvious to all, another round of funding won’t solve the core problem there, especially given that the role Hamas is playing in the crisis is being ignored. So to prevent the next crisis, and the one after that, real change is necessary.
Israeli interests demand that Hanegbi switch roles from an observer to a central actor in the event and that he ask for an orderly plan to shut down the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. Hanegbi needs to prevent viable alternatives to the destructive status quo that for 70 years has defined Palestinians in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, etc. as refugees from the 1948 War of Independence, leading billions of dollars of international aid to be funneled into perpetuating the Palestinian narrative about a “right of return.” The unstinting support of various Israeli governments and the Israeli defense establishment for UNRWA has caused considerable damage, and it’s time to think up more efficient ways of helping that are not tied to the Palestinian narrative or to terrorist organizations. The political price of continued cooperation with UNRWA outweighs all other considerations.