The American Center for Law and Justice has filed a lawsuit against the State Department alleging its “anti-Israel Deep State” is concealing a report that may reveal fraud and mismanagement in the United Nations’ refugee program.
The complaint under the Freedom of Information Act concerns ACLJ’s requests for State Department records on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
ACLJ wants a U.S. report on UNRWA that suggests U.S. officials are aware of fraud at the U.N.
The legal group initiated the request Feb. 5 following news reports that the Obama State Department “created a report concerning UNRWA relief to Palestinian ‘refugees’ but unnecessarily (and thus improperly) gave it a ‘Classified’ designation to prevent the information from reaching Congress and the public.”
The concealed UNRWA report apparently was commissioned in 2015 for then-Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who wanted information on the number of Palestinian “refugees” served by the U.N. who lived in what now is Israel from 1946 to 1948.
“Rather than providing Congress with the completed report, it appears the State Department classified the report and has withheld it from outside eyes, going so far, the media reports, as to ignore a 2017 congressional directive that the department produce an unclassified version of the report. The report is said to confirm that the number of Palestinian ‘refugees’ is only in the tens of thousands, rather than, as UNRWA claims, the millions,” ACLJ said.
The State Department, said ACLJ, “has bought into the leftist, Palestinian, U.N. narrative that Israel is an aggressor nation – rather than one trying to protect its sovereignty and citizens – and that because Palestinians have no nation of their own (a choice made, ironically, by the Palestinian leadership itself in rejecting multiple two-state scenarios offered by Israel), they are ‘refugees’ – a specific legal term with international legal repercussions that is blatantly misused in this situation.”
Calling Palestinians “refugees” is legally and factually incorrect, and needs to end, the organization said.
The Trump administration has cut millions from UNRWA funding in contrast to the previous administration, which maintained an ongoing relationship with the PA’s leadership.
“Thus, in addition to the UNRWA report itself and records concerning it, the ACLJ has requested from the State Department additional records concerning UNRWA, Palestinian ‘refugees,’ the recent decision of the United States to cut UNRWA funding, and John Kerry’s dealings with the Palestinian Authority and its representatives.”
The State Department has not provided the requested information, the ACLJ report said.
“The documents we’ve requested concern basic taxpayer oversight of an agency that receives millions of U.S. dollars every year. If those funds are unnecessary or being used for improper purposes, that is undoubtedly a matter of urgency,” it said.
Adam Kredo reported at the Free Beacon in January the State Department was hiding the report “insiders say could be a game changer in how the United States approaches the situation and allocates millions in taxpayer funds.”
The report was described to the Free Beacon as a “potential tipping point in the debate over UNRWA and its mission, which has come under increased criticism in Congress for what many claim is the agency’s anti-Israel bias and routine promotion of pro-terrorism doctrines.”
The UNRWA says it provides support to about 5.3 million Palestinians it claims are refugees, but the actual number could be closer to 20,000.
The Beacon said that in addition to reports that UNRWA is using anti-Israel content in its classrooms, it has been caught hiding Hamas rockets in its schools on at least three occasions.