Bonnie Glick at the International Summit for a Future Beyond UNRWA

Bonnie Glick, Senior Adviser at Center for Strategic and International Studies, former Deputy Administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development

Full Remarks:

Thank you Hillel, I want to thank you and your great team at UN Watch for inviting me to speak here at this international summit on transitioning beyond UNRWA. As you said, I served as the deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the US Agency for International Development for two years and during this period we took a serious look at U.S. assistance to Palestinians. For a variety of reasons, we determined that assistance to Palestinian NGOs, the Palestinian Authority, and significantly, to UNRWA  were not good investments of American tax dollars. Whereas UNHRC focuses on resettling refugees in third countries and allowing them to build new lives, as we well know now, UNRWA focuses on the perpetual victimhood of Palestinians while giving them only one glimmer of misbegotten hope that one day they will take over the land of Israel and cloak it in red, green, white, and black colors. Did Palestinians living in Arab countries ever benefit in the way resettled refugees from all around the world have benefited? The simple answer is no. So why does UNRWA continue to play a role in Palestinian society, why are Palestinians the only so-called refugee group in the world that can never grow out of refugee status? 

The United States was built as a haven for people who were oppressed around the world. Refugees in America are resettled, their children are educated, and they have hope for a better life for themselves and for future generations. But future generations are not called refugees, they are called Americans. I’ve been calling for the dismantlement and the defunding of UNRWA within my own government for over a dozen years. It’s a tragedy that it took Oct 7th, and the wanton, sadistic slaughter of 1200 Israelis, Americans, Thais, Nepalese, Argentines, Danes, Canadians, and a dozen others, as well as the abduction of over 240 men, women, children, elderly, and babies, and the rapes of still untold hundreds of women, girls, boys, and men, for the world’s eyes to be opened. 

When the world’s eyes were opened, there were a few eyeballs that remained glued shut, unyielding in support of Hamas, unwilling to see the facts of the violence of Oct 7th. 


Among those who were willfully shielding their vision were UN Women, the ICRC, the WHO, SG Antonio Guterres himself, and of course Philippe Lazzarini and his fellow underworld bosses in UNRWA. Underworld is actually an apt description as we’ve all learned, Hamas had an enormous tunnel directly underneath the UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza.  Electricity, lighting, refrigeration, plumbing, and lodging for Hamas leaders, all were provided by UNRWA. 


What a shock, of course for Mr. Lazzarini, to learn that the world finally learned his agency’s secrets. Both Mr. Lazzarini and Guterres deny any knowledge of Hamas’ activities in collaboration with UNRWA, despite the fact that UN Watch has been providing them information about the worst-kept secret in the Middle East for easily a decade. I believe that Secretary Guterres and Mr. Lazzarini should not represent the future of the United Nations. 


So what does a future for the UN without UNRWA look like? What happens with the growing, not shrinking, number of Palestinian refugees? First and foremost, Hamas must cease to exist. Second, every single hostage held by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Gazans civilians, including numerous UNRWA employees, must be released to Israel. Among those hostages of course, are at least 5 American citizens. A stewardship committee, likely led by Israel, will slowly begin the process of figuring out how to handle all of the so-called Palestinian refugees. 


Certainly, those who wish to be resettled in third countries, and there will likely be millions of them, should be free to do so. For the purpose of resettlement, a temporary solution could include the UNHCR but I would recommend a firm, time-bound lifespan for this effort. Given the Palestinian so-called refugees are now into their fifth and sixth generations with that status, UNHCR should act with alacrity to resettle those wishing to move. Many countries have offered sanctuary. Some Palestinians may choose to remain in Gaza. There will be a slow process of building from scratch a civilian-led government. 

Those Palestinians will be charged with rebuilding lives, and funding for that should come principally from their Arab brethren. It’s all but certain that countries like China will be slow to respond to calls for rebuilding of Gaza. China has not been financially generous to Palestinians in the past. Indeed images of the Jewish state called to the International Court of Justice on charges of non-existent genocide against Palestinians leaves CCP leaders quaking in their boots, as they are actually committing genocide against their own population of muslim Uyghurs. When I was in government, we called out actual genociders, like China. The UN’s Kangaroo Court is inexplicably accusing the one country that rose from the ashes of actual genocide of perpetrating this heinous crime. I’m fairly certain that many countries will step up to help a civilian-controlled Gaza emerge. It will take time, but people of goodwill have a habit of demonstrating their generosity even when their goodwill is so often taken for granted. The UN and UNRWA must stop taking people of goodwill for granted. They have proven that they are not worthy.

UN Watch