According to a report in America’s Foreign Policy magazine, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, “Pressed Jordan to strip its more than 2 million registered Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate there.” The only way to understand Kushner’s inflammatory step is through the wider context of the efforts made by the Trump administration that ultimately aim to eliminate UNRWA, or at least stop its work in Jordan.
Kushner is basing his actions on the theory that Palestinian refugees could be resettled in host countries and that these countries can provide the same services as UNRWA. During his visit, Kushner proposed that the Jordanian government be supported financially in order to carry out this task. The excuse Kushner and the team working with him have relied on is that UNRWA “perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
It is obvious that Kushner seeks to remove the refugee issue from the negotiations, and considers the right of return for these refugees to be no more than a dream; and that the Arab countries must wake from their own slumber and seek peace seriously. We must not forget that there is a view in Washington that considers the Arabs’ demand for the return of the refugees to be rhetoric only, and that there is no other solution to their issue but resettlement in host countries.
It is no secret that the US lost its role as an honest mediator in Palestine a long time ago. The team tasked with this in the White House is completely biased in favour of the Israeli right-wing agenda, which stipulates the elimination of the Palestinians and Israel’s control of as much Palestinian land as possible. Why, therefore, do some Arabs still have high hopes of Washington?
Of course, the Arabs have the choice to say “no” but this doesn’t change anything, because Israel continues to expand and build settlements in order to create facts on the ground. This means that it is not paying the price for its expansion, while the Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, are content with just saying “no”. This does not cost Israel anything and does not deter it from moving forward with its colonisation project.
Everyone should remember that the ongoing plight of the Palestinians arose not only because of the establishment of the State of Israel, but also because of their ethnic cleansing from their towns, villages, homes and land. The Nakba is the catastrophe of the refugees. Hence, no honourable Arab can accept the proposed suspicious schemes and ideas that serve one side and one side only: Israel. We do not know exactly what the Jordanian response was, but we can refer to the united popular position that rejects the basis of the “Jordan is Palestine” idea and is prepared to bear the economic consequences of the country’s support for the Palestinians’ legitimate right of return.
It has to be said that Jordan only has to buy time until the end of the Trump administration and then the Almighty will bring about what we do not know. The current US administration and its racist views are not unalterable fate, as there is a lot of room for manoeuvre in order for the Jordanians and Palestinians to avoid a new catastrophe that may come at a time when the Arabs are hostile towards each other and Israel is left alone to face the people of Palestine.
The Foreign Policy report reveals correspondence between members of the US administration, and a deliberate intention to eliminate UNRWA in order to serve Israel. The idea is in no way new, as Kushner was preceded by a number of Jewish analysts in America who have raised the idea of resettling refugees in host countries. Perhaps, though, the Palestinian demand for an independent and viable State of Palestine will wither and die, and the resettlement of the refugees may create the grounds for further expulsions from the West Bank to the East Bank of the River Jordan.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 6 August 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.