Palestinian refugees number only several thousand, and not the millions claimed by the Palestinians, according to a classified State Department document.
Palestinian refugees worldwide number only some 30,000, and not the millions claimed by the Palestinians, according to a classified Obama-era report on the issue.
The Free Beacon on Friday reported that the US government continues to keep this explosive report classified. Congressional officials view the document as a potential game changer in how the US approaches its regional policies and allocates billions in taxpayer funds, including information that could deeply impact the diplomatic process.
Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the report, the Free Beacon reported that the State Department continues to keep the report secret in order to not disrupt billions of dollars in allocations to United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the organization responsible for providing aid to what they claim are some 5.2 million Palestinian refugees.
Those familiar with the report say the US had determined that the actual number of Palestinian refugees is far smaller, closer to around 30,000.
In a letter penned earlier this month, more than 50 members of Congress called on President Donald Trump to release the report, as mandated by US law.
Those familiar with the classified report’s contents told the Free Beacon that the State Department is intentionally trying to keep the document secret because of the political implications of its release.
The report’s findings could prompt real progress in the peace process by redefining the parameters of the debate on Palestinian refugees’ right of return to the Jewish state.
“As long as you have a right to return for millions of people, there’s no way in the world the Israeli government would agree to or could agree. If you could redefine refugees as a number that is manageable and fair and represents the reality, that becomes, instead of a stumbling block, it becomes a building block on trying to reinvigorate the peace process,” Congressman Chris Stewart (R, Utah) said.
Asked about the document’s classified status, Stewart responded, “there’s no reason in the world it’s classified. The reason it’s classified is because it’s a political document that the administration just didn’t” want to release publicly.
“Is it a meaningful document?” Stewart added “Absolutely. Is it information that should be shared in the world community? Absolutely. If this information was shared and we were to take a practical look at this, would it help in negotiating a peace proposal? I believe it absolutely would.”
Palestinian Refugees’ Unique Status
The Palestinians have a unique definition for their status as refugees.The number of Palestinian refugees has been vastly inflated by the fact that refugee status is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to the definition of refugee status for every other population in the world.
For instance, the vast majority of the “refugees” in Jordan, more than two million, are citizens of Jordan who identify as Palestinian.
Israel has argued for years that the UN and the Palestinians are working to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and oppose any attempt to seek a solution.
Furthermore, the Palestinians’ status as refugees ensures an endless flow of international aid and has other financial ramifications.
A so-called Palestinian refugee receives quadruple the amount of aid that a Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee receives from the United Nations.
A study released in September shows that in 2016, UNRWA, which provides assistance solely to Palestinians, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the UNHCR spent only a quarter of that, $58 per refugee, on non-Palestinians.