Jpost – Israel News
By Herb Keinon 2 September 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose a school in Yad Binyamin, a community that absorbed Israelis uprooted from their homes in Gush Katif 13 years ago, to demonstrate how Israel treats refugees, and to praise the US for cutting its funding to UNRWA.
“This is a very welcome and important change, and we support it,” Netanyahu said of the American decision regarding UNRWA.
The UN Relief and Works Agency was created not to absorb refugees, but rather perpetuate their plight, he said. “We have to cancel the refugee institution, we have to take the money and really help to rehabilitate the refugees, whose real number is only a tiny fraction of the number reported by UNRWA.”
Netanyahu contrasted how UNRWA has perpetuated the refugee problem with how he said Israel provided solution to Jews uprooted from their homes.
“The uprooted from Gush Katif were absorbed in this community,” Netanyahu said while visiting the Breuer element school in Yad Binyamin to mark the first day of the new school year.
“The lives of those uprooted from Gush Katif could have been a tragedy, a horrible disaster,” he said. “It started with horrible pain, but the state of Israel and all of its citizens worked together so that the uprooted from Gush Katif would not be refugees in their land. We absorbed them, and they renewed their lives to create wonderful lives. The memory persists, but there is the present and the future which have already changed, and that gives new life and great hope.”
Netanyahu stressed that while he was opposed to the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, once it happened, Israel “dealt with the problem.”
He then talked about other Jewish refugees that Israel has absorbed.
“Didn’t people up-rooted from all different lands come to us?” he asked. “Holocaust survivors who were uprooted from their lands, form communities where they live – like in Lithuania, for 500 years, or in Poland for 1,000 years. They were uprooted , survived and came here.”
The premier said the same thing happened to hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands who came to Israel – penniless and without possession – after the War of Independence
“Did we leave them as refugees?” he asked. “We did not leave them as refugees, we turned them into productive, equal citizens in our country.”
The same, he said, cannot be said of the Palestinians, where UNRWA was created 70 years ago “not to absorb the refugees, but rather to perpetuate the refugees.” For this reason, he said, the US “did something very important” in cutting off funds to the organization.