The UN's Key Role in the Effort to Destroy the State of Israel
The American Jewish International Relations Institute (AJIRI) has given us permission to post this paper on our web site. It is an excellent summary of the hostile environment for Israel at the UN and we are grateful to Ambassador Richard Schifter, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AJIRI, for sharing this document with us.
AJIRI #60 October 2018
What is generally understood is that Hamas is committed to the destruction of the Jewish State by force. What is generally not understood is that the so-called "moderate" Palestinian leadership, stemming from the Fatah movement, has the same ultimate goal, an end to the State of Israel, to be attained through the "right of return." What is also not generally understood is that the reason why these "moderate" leaders continue, after 70 years, to refuse to enter into meaningful peace negotiations is that the UN has provided full support for the effort to destroy the majority-Jewish state.
The effort to enlist the UN system in the program to destroy the State of Israel began in the late 1950's, when opponents of Israel seized control of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA). The UN's full-scale anti-Israel apparatus was established in 1975, with the creation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). It was soon thereafter supplemented by the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR). DPR, which is an office in the UN Secretariat, has thus committed the UN Secretariat to support of the claim of a "right of return" and thus the destruction of the State of Israel.
The Change in the Initial Mission of UNRWA.
Israel's War of Independence ended in 1949 with the signing of armistice agreements (not peace agreements!). At that time, about 700,000 Arabs whose homes had been in the newly-established State of Israel and who had fled from the regions that were in the battle zone, found themselves on the Arab side of the armistice demarcation lines. On the Israeli side there were about 17,000 Jews who had fled from the area that was now in Jordan and about 33,000 Arabs who had lost their homes in the course of the military campaigns but were still in Israel.
The United States, which had taken the initiative in helping refugees and other displaced persons in Europe, saw to it that the UN would create an agency that would take responsibility for resettling the persons who had lost their homes as a result of the Israeli/Arab conflict. This brought about, in December 1949, the adoption by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) of Res. 302 (IV), which established the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA). Funds were allocated to UNWRA to provide relief for Palestine refugees (both Arabs and Jews), create works programs, and "to consult with the interested Near Eastern Governments concerning measures to be taken by them preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects would no longer be available."
UNGA thus created and funded an agency which was to provide immediate relief for the refugees of the 1948/1949 Israeli/Arab conflict for a short period of time for which international funding was to be available. The agency was to develop works programs in conjunction with local governments, responsibility for which was to be assumed by the local governments. At the same time, the agency was to work on a long-term solution, which was obviously to be the settlement of the refugees in the locations where they now found themselves. Indeed, the basic assumption for the creation of UNRWA was that the local governments would cooperate with it. It is worth noting, as far as the refugees in Arab countries are concerned, that most of them found themselves in countries that had the same historic origin as they had, having been part of the Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire. They were of the same ethnicity, had the same religion, spoke the same language. As it is, many of them were back in territories from which their parents or grandparents had migrated to the region that had become the State of Israel.
During the initial years of UNRWA, most of the Directors of the Agency tried very hard to achieve the intended goals of UNRWA: provide immediate assistance but arrange for the resettlement of the refugees in the countries in which they were now residing, so as to enable UNRWA to complete its work. It happens that it did not take long to complete UNRWA's work in Israel. By 1952 the refugees had been resettled and the Government of Israel took full responsibility for integrating them into their new surroundings, both Arabs and Jews.
It was in the Arab states that UNRWA's Directors encountered increasing difficulties. Jordan, to be sure, granted citizenship to the refugees. But the Arab League decided not to cooperate in carrying out UNRWA's humanitarian objective. It quickly established a political goal, insisting that the Arab refugees had a "right of return" to Israel and were to retain their refugee status. It instructed its members not to cooperate on any project that might interfere with this objective.
When it became clear that Israel would not agree to the "return", the Arab League saw to it that UNRWA would amend the definition of "refugee", first, in 1965, to include grandchildren along the paternal line, next, in 1982, to all descendants of refugees along the male line, thus creating "refugee" status in perpetuity. That is why we are, in 2018, dealing with 5.3 million Palestinian refugees. What is particularly ironic is that about 40% of the "refugees" live in territory that was part of the Palestinian UN Mandate.
The Arab League also saw to it that UNWRA's initial program would change dramatically. Rather than providing relief and works programs, UNRWA started to provide governmental services (education, medical help, social services) to the refugees and their descendants. The very purpose of UNWRA's continued existence was to segregate "refugees" from the people in the country or territory in which they lived. The purpose of the segregation was, quite obviously, to maintain an Arab population that would maintain the claim of the "right of return."
These UNRWA changes came about in the late 1950's and were completed in the early 1960's. The United States was at that time still in a leadership position at the UN. But these were the Cold War years, in which the United States competed with the Soviet Union as both sought good relations with the Arab states. Under these circumstances, the State Department preferred not to engage in a battle with the Arab League over the role that UNRWA would play. That made it possible for the Arab League to change the role of UNRWA to the role that it has today: an organization that maintains a series of governmental services to people who, as far as these services are concerned, are segregated from the communities in which they live. That segregation has one purpose: to maintain a distinct Arab community that would claim a "right of return" to Israel, a claim which, if realized, would end Israel's existence as a Jewish-majority state.
Turning the United Nations System into an anti-Israel Organization
It was in 1974 that a most profound change took place in the United Nations system. Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi had joined in an effort and had succeeded in putting together a majority coalition in the UN General Assembly. It consisted of the Soviet bloc, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and a majority of African states that were attracted by slogans of anti-colonialism and the slogan "Zionism is Racism." The new coalition was committed to use the UN system to (a) end Israel's existence as a majority-Jewish state through support of the "right of return," and (b) weaken the U.S. position internationally. Neither goal was achieved, but the UN's support of the "right of return" remains to this day a major obstacle to the conclusion of a meaningful peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Further, the penetration of the UN Secretariat, by anti-Israel operatives has had the effect of instilling anti-Israel sentiments into a large part of the UN staff.
To review how it was done: Castro and Qaddafi, both candidates for leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement, reached agreement in September 1973 to work with each other at the UN. They then planned their take-over of the UNGA at the 29th Session, starting in September 1974. One of the first steps of the new leadership was to invite Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to address the UNGA. He delivered a speech that lasted more than two hours. A few weeks later, in November 1974, the UNGA adopted Res. 3236 (XXIX) in which it recognized "the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted." The resolution then declared that the UNGA "calls for their return."
It was at the next session, in 1975, that the UNGA took a critically important additional step. It created the UN's central anti-Israel apparatus, which operates to this very day. By adopting Res. 3376 (XXX) it expressed its "grave concern that no progress has been made towards ... the exercise by Palestinians of their inalienable right to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted." The resolution then established the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and requested the Committee to "recommend to the General Assembly a programme of implementation, designed to enable the Palestinian people to exercise the rights recognized in ...resolution 3236 (XXIX) [the inalienable rights]. The Committee was also authorized "in the fulfillment of its mandate, to establish contact with, and to receive and consider suggestions and proposals from, any State and intergovernmental organization and the Palestine Liberation Organization."
To start with, the Committee's work, getting the anti-Israel message out in the UN system, was undertaken by the staff of the Members of the Committee, with Cuban staff members in the lead. But then the organizers of the anti-Israel campaign took a critically important next step: they were able to get an UNGA resolution adopted that assigned a key role in the anti-Israel campaign to the UN Secretariat. Res. 32/40, adopted in 1977 reiterated UNGA's commitment to "a just solution of the problem of Palestine on the basis of the attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of return" and then went on to request the Secretary General "to establish within the Secretariat of the United Nations a Special Unit on Palestinian Rights which would ...prepare ...studies and publications relating to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people [and] promote maximum publicity for such studies and publications through all appropriate means [and] ensure the full co-operation of the Office of Public Information and other units of the Secretariat in enabling the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights to perform its tasks."
Res. 34-65, adopted in 1979, changed the name of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights to Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR) and added to its responsibilities.
As the decades have passed, anti-Israel resolutions have been adopted on a variety of topics by a variety of entities within the UN system. What this analysis shows is how the United Nations, in truly outrageous violation of its Charter, has built within its system an apparatus designed to destroy one of its 193 member states. UNRWA's purpose is to maintain a list of millions of people of Arab ethnicity, whose mass migration to Israel the UN plans to sponsor. CEIRPP gets the message out in support of this mass migration. DPR, being located in the Secretariat, has succeeded in enlisting a great many members of the UN staff in the anti-Israel cause and using the UN system to win international support for the cause that would destroy the State of Israel. The ultimate goal is to get the UN Security Council to sponsor the mass migration of the alleged "Palestinian refugees" to Israel, ordering the State of Israel to accept them. A United States veto can, of course, prevent this. What those committed to the "right of return" believe is that by attaining worldwide support for their cause, they will ultimately cause the United States to give in and allow the Security Council to adopt a "right of return" resolution.