US changes vote from ‘no’ to abstaining on granting Palestinians ‘right of return’ to Israel

The resolution explicitly states that Israel must pay Palestinian refugees compensation for property lost during the 1948 War of Independence or allow them to return to what is now sovereign Israel.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The United States toed the line during a critical U.N. vote on Wednesday, changing its vote from “no” to abstaining on a measure which said that Palestinian refugees and their descendants have the “right to return” and settle in modern-day Israel.

The vote marked a significant departure from previous U.S. votes on such matters, which garnered an “automatic” no in support of the Jewish State during the four years of the Trump administration.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution titled “Assistance to Palestine Refugees” explicitly states that Israel must pay Palestinian refugees compensation for property lost during the 1948 War of Independence or allow them to return what is now sovereign Israel.

The vote, which occurs yearly in order to confirm that the Palestinian refugee organization UNRWA should continue to operate, contains multiple measures that range from relatively benign to highly critical of Israel.

In 2018, former president Donald Trump cut off funding to UNRWA, arguing that the organization does not properly use its annual budget of over $1 billion.

The administration also criticized UNRWA for continuously expanding its circle of dependents to encompass unprecedented third- and fourth-generation refugees while not advancing their status in the various countries in which they are dispersed.

Trump’s Middle East advisor Jared Kushner said at the time, “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

The Biden administration has reversed Trump’s position, citing the resumption of funding to UNRWA as the reason for abstaining.

Regarding “the resolutions pertaining to UNRWA, this year, the United States returns to a position of abstention,” Richard Mills, U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations said in a statement.

“Under President Biden, the United States announced it would restore its financial support to UNRWA, which we do believe is a vital lifeline to millions of Palestinians across the region,” the statement continued.

“Since April, the U.S. 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 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.”