United States abstains from UNWRA affirmation vote for Palestinian right of return

The Biden administration abstained, but did not reject, a General Assembly resolution affirming the right of return of Palestinian refugees to sovereign Israel.

In doing so, he broke the voting pattern on Israel established by former US President Donald Trump, in which all those texts received an automatic “no” vote.

However, the Obama administration had traditionally abstained from this particular text, which is presented annually to the UNGA.

“This year, the United States returns to an abstention position on the text” Assistance to Palestinian refugees, “US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills told the UNGA Fourth Committee late Tuesday afternoon.

He spoke as the committee gave initial approval to six anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian draft resolutions that will reach the UNGA plenary later this year for a final vote.

A screenshot of the results of the UN General Assembly vote on assistance to Palestinian refugees. (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Three of those texts affirm the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency, which serves 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

All three resolutions require the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to sovereign Israel or that they receive compensation for the property they lost when they fled their homes.

Of the three, the resolution entitled “Assistance to Palestinian Refugees” is considered the most benign.

The United States voted against the other two resolutions on UNRWA. Canada similarly abstained on the text called assistance to the Palestinian people and later rejected the other two.

The European Union supported all three texts. Only Israel totally opposed the text “assistance to Palestinian refugees” which passed 160-1, with nine abstentions.

The other countries that abstained were Cameron, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papa New Guinea and Uruguay.

A screenshot of the results of the UN General Assembly vote on UNRWA funding (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)A screenshot of the results of the UN General Assembly vote on UNRWA funding (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

The Trump administration had opposed UNRWA and cut US funding for the organization. Both the Trump administration and Israel have accused the textbooks used in UNRWA schools as anti-Semitic and inciting against Israel.

They opposed UNRWA’s policy of applying refugee status to descendants of Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948, a move they explain creates an ever-growing refugee population.

Israel has also opposed the Palestinians’ right of return to sovereign Israel, a move it argues would destroy the country’s identity as the ethnic national homeland of the Jewish people. He has explained the essence of a two-state resolution to the conflict, the Palestinians would have the right to return only to one Palestinian state, just as the Jews would have the right to return only to Israel.

The Biden administration, however, has restored US funding and support for UNRWA.

A screenshot of the results of the UN General Assembly vote on restitution for Palestinian refugees (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)A screenshot of the results of the UN General Assembly vote on restitution for Palestinian refugees (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

“As many members know, under President Biden, the United States announced that it would reestablish its financial support for UNRWA, which we believe is a vital lifeline for millions of Palestinians throughout the region,” Mills told the UNRWA.

“Since April, the United States government has provided more than $ 318 million to UNRWA in fiscal year 2021, including critical support for education, health and social services benefiting millions of registered Palestinian refugees in the UNRWA, “Mills said.

The United States, he said, has noted that some changes were made to the text of the resolutions on UNRWA “that reflect our priorities in line with strengthening UNRWA.”

He added that “the United States will continue to work with UNRWA; it will work to strengthen the Agency’s accountability, transparency, and consistency with UN principles.”

Mills called on UN member states to financially support UNRWA, noting that many of those who voted in favor of all three UNRWA resolutions were unwilling to spend money on the organization.

I would also like to take a moment to note the overwhelming support of Member States for these resolutions that were voted here today, compared to the relatively few Member States that financially support UNRWA.

“In light of the Agency’s urgent deficit, the United States urges member states to support UNRWA services for Palestinian refugees not only in word, but also in action, and to do so quickly,” he said. Mills.

The resolutions were voted on ahead of a donor conference for UNRWA scheduled for November 16 in Belgium.


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