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Officials: State Dept. Keeping Shock Obama Era Palestinian Report Secret

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A key report which details just how many Palestinian refugees were subsidized under the Obama era is being kept classified by the State Department months after its existence was disclosed, leading to serious questions about how taxpayer dollars were spent.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported in January that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — which claimed to have given money to 5.3 million Palestinian refugees — may actually have just spent the money on just 20,000 to 30,000 individuals.

“Congressional officials familiar with the classified report, the existence of which was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon, say the State Department continues to keep it secret in order to not disrupt billions of dollars in allocations to United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” the Free Beacon reported Thursday.

“This disclosure could fundamentally change the way billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are allocated to UNRWA and the Palestinian government and impact America’s longstanding policies regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“Lawmakers are pressuring the Trump administration to finally release the report to the public,” the Free Beacon added.

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“The Free Beacon first disclosed this effort earlier this month, publishing a letter signed by more than 50 members of Congress who are calling on President Donald Trump to finally release the report, as is mandated by current U.S. laws.”

Many in Congress see no need for the report to remain under wraps.

“On its face, when you understand this issue, you think why in the world is this classified?” said Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican.

“This isn’t the codes to launch nuclear missiles.”

Do you think this report should be declassified?

It isn’t just the money that we’re spending on the refugees that’s the issue, either. The right of return — a major issue in the peace process — could be massively altered if the number of actual refugees is well below 1 percent of what it was thought to be.

The right of return essentially states that Palestinians can return to Israel under an international norm that states individuals should always have the right to voluntarily return and immigrate to their country of citizenship or origin.

In the case of Israel, however, the right of return has often been used as a sort of negotiating chip by the Palestinian Authority. Even if Palestine becomes its own nation, the Palestinians were technically born in Israel — and the Palestinian Authority wants a right of return to Israel for its citizens, which means refugees could overwhelm Israel, among other potential issues.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has said such a deal involving a right of return would be a “nonstarter.”

“If we can solve the right to return, if we can define refugees in such a way that it becomes possible, that’s an enormous step forward in the peace process,” Stewart said.

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“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 to, 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.”

“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.”

Stewart’s thinking that the Palestinian Authority would cede that 5.2 million number from UNRWA so easily seems off base, but he is right about the fact that it puts the negotiations in a new light.

It’s also something that Americans deserve to know about. A lot of UNRWA’s money is coming from the State Department, and apparently the entrenched bureaucrats in Foggy Bottom want to keep that sweet, sweet refugee funding coming down the pipeline no matter what the reality of the situation actually is.

So, what does the State Department have to say about keeping vital information from the American public in violation of U.S. laws to perpetuate their own funding?

“As part of normal congressional interactions, we routinely respond to requests for information,” a State Department official said “We do not comment on any specific reports; however, the Department takes Congressional reporting requirements very seriously.”

Of course you do.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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