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US abstains from anti-Israel UN vote affirming “Palestinian right of return,” signaling shift in voting patterns to Obama days

If ever implemented, the right of return would effectively wipe out the Jewish state 

Illustrative vote at the UN by the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Photo: Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield's official Twitter account)

The U.S. decided to abstain at the United Nations General Assembly rather than vote against an annual anti-Israel resolution affirming the “right of return” for Arab refugees from the Arab-Israeli 1948 war and millions of their foreign-born descendants.

If the “right of return” were ever implemented, it would effectively mean the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. By abstaining from voting against this potentially lethal resolution against America’s close ally, Israel, the Biden administration officially returned to the voting pattern of the Obama era. 

Under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. automatically voted against this and many other UN resolutions that are hostile towards the Jewish state. 

The anti-Israel resolution at the General Assembly was passed with 160 votes in favor with only Israel voting against it. All European Union member states voted in favor of the resolution. The nine countries abstaining were the United States, Canada, Uruguay, Micronesia, Nauru, Cameroon and the Marshall Islands. 

The U.S. Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills commented on Washington’s abstention on the UN General Assembly text “Assistance to Palestine Refugees” at the assembly’s Fourth Committee on Tuesday. 

“This year, the United States returns to a position of abstention on the text ‘Assistance to Palestine Refugees,’” Mills said

While the U.S. abstained on the text affirming the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees,” Washington voted against the remaining five anti-Israel resolutions. Despite the Biden administration’s decision to increasingly engage with the UN, Mills lamented the fact that the Jewish state continues to be the target of discrimination at the UN. 

“We are disappointed that member states continue to disproportionately single out Israel,” the U.S. deputy ambassador said.

Three out of the six affirmed anti-Israel texts included support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a unique UN body dealing solely with Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. By contrast, The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) deals with all other refugees in the world. 

While tens of millions of refugees have been resettled worldwide since the Second World War, the UNRWA has not resettled a single refugee.

On the contrary, due to the UNRWA anomaly of passing on the refugee status from one generation to the next, the number of registered Palestinian refugees has increased dramatically from several hundred thousand in 1948 to almost 6 million in 2021. The overwhelming majority of the current “refugees” are in reality foreign-born children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the very few remaining genuine refugees from the 1948 war. 

Critics argue that UNRWA is part of the problem by perpetuating the “refugee crisis” from 1948. 

During the same period, almost 1 million Jews fled or were expelled from Arab and Muslim countries across the Middle East. The majority of Middle Eastern Jewish refugees were resettled in Israel after Arab governments confiscated Jewish properties worth billions of dollars. No international refugee agency assisted the Jewish refugees who are today largely forgotten. 

Detailed reports reveal that flagrant anti-Semitic propaganda has been disseminated under the auspices of UNRWA. As a result, Trump cut financial aid to UNRWA in 2018. In April 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would restore Washington’s financial aid to UNRWA after the organization had officially committed itself to “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism. However, recent reports indicate that anti-Semitism – including glorification of Adolf Hitler – remains endemic in UNRWA’s schools. 

General Assembly resolutions are not binding and will not change anything on the ground. However, the latest voting pattern signals that the Jewish state is still far from an equal member in the family of nations despite recent diplomatic breakthroughs and normalization agreements in the Middle East and beyond. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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