Palestinian “Refugees” or “SAPs”?

Wards of the World The well-know secret (but not discussed, as honesty is considered impolite in politics) in the halls of governments around the world is that there are currently only 30,000 Palestinian refugees as defined by the United Nations. That definition states:

Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.

This generous definition of “refugee” ignores some basic points:

  • There were hundreds of thousands of “Palestinians” who moved to the region of Palestine from around the Arab world during the British Mandate prior to June 1946. They were newcomers, not indigenous people;
  • A “refugee” is defined as someone who is forced to flee a country, not a house or town. Palestine was not a country, but an administered region under the British Mandate;
  • Many of these “refugees” did not flee at all, but left on their own free will;
  • Many of the “refugees” were renters, not land-owners

Today, the United Nations refers to 5 million Palestinian “refugees”. These are not refugees, but descendants who voluntarily registered to receive aid from the “temporary” United Nations agency. UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, made these services available on a longer term basis when it appeared that the Israeli-Arab conflict would continue for many years:

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its area of operations [Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza] who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration.”

UNRWA enabled people to register for services, not to register as a “refugee”. A person can no more register to be a refugee than to register to be a different gender or race. A person is either a refugee or is not- but cannot volunteer to sign up as one. Today, there are roughly 11 million Arabs who claim to have Palestinian heritage. The majority (55%) of them are citizens in new countries such as Chile, the United States and Israel. They have productive lives like many families from around the world. They call themselves Arab Chileans, Arab-Americans or Israeli Arabs. There are roughly 5 million Arabs who live in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza who have opted to take aid from UNRWA. Unlike relatives that made new lives and became citizens around the world, they decided to become SAPs, Stateless Arabs from Palestine. They accepted a beggar’s bargain which left them without a country in exchange for becoming wards of the world. In 2014, of the 11 million Palestinians:

  • 0.3% are Palestinian refugees who can make a claim of actually being displaced 66 years ago;
  • 55% have taken citizenship around the world;
  • 45% have elected to be SAPs, to live on the world’s charity and complain about their lack of dignity. 2.16 million people in Gaza and the West Bank currently receive aid from UNRWA, and another 3.1 million in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan

Source: Refugee definition,

  • someone who has been forced to leave a country because of war or for religious or political reasons” (not a descendant)

US Senate defining 30,000 Palestinian refugees

UNRWA statistics:

Related First One Through article:

800,000 Arabs moved to Palestine between 1920 and 1947

UNRWA tries to hand key to Israel to Palestinians

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

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