All hail Sen. Mark Kirk for lucidity and reason in the face of decades of political propaganda. Kirk has managed to get one step closer to forcing the US State Department to properly define who is a Palestinian refugee .
You see, there is a special UN agency devoted only to Palestinian refugees and it is in charge of a series of "refugee camps" that have been built and maintained by the UN, in various locations (such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank) and the US largely funds its $1 billion annual budget.
These camps have been in existence since 1948 with absolutely no effort on the part of the host countries like Jordan to absorb these residents, or grant them citizenship. Instead the more than 3 million Palestinians living in these camps have been pawns of their hosts as pawns in the war against Israel. And even by the UN's official definition, most are receiving UN benefits even though they are not really refugees.
Kirk is now demanding that the State Department define who is a refugee according to "whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who were displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict; and who are descendants" of those people. The result could be that instead of millions of Palestinian refugees there may really be as few as 30,000 and perhaps as many as 700,000.
"The amendment simply demands basic transparency with regard to who receives U.S. taxpayer assistance," Kirk's spokesperson Kate Dickens said. "A vote against this amendment is a vote to deny taxpayers basic information about an agency they are funding."
Beyond reporting the two numbers -- the actual refugees from 1948 and the number of their descendents -- there is the hope that clarity will eventually help the millions stuck under UN "care"
As Alexander Joffee and Asaf Romirowsky write at UPI , "This state of affairs has provided Palestinians with a basic level of health, education and welfare at the cost of reintegration into local Arab societies. The development of Palestinian civil society and democratic institutions has been retarded by financial dependence on the international community and this has in turn fostered Palestinian intransigence toward Israel. For the United States and other countries that have paid out tens of billions, this situation is unacceptable."
Since State did everything it could to oppose the Kirk amendment, let's now see if there is complaince with the reporting requirement and from there, whether helping the Palestinians can really begin.