Israel Resource Review 16th June, 2004


When Noam came marching home:
A Perspective on the Northern Border
David Bedein

My grandfather, Harry Bedein, arrived on the shores of Boston on June 14th, 1905 after escaping the clutches of the Russian army to embark on a new life.

99 years later, my oldest son, Noam Bedein, arrives on the shores of Boston on June 14th, 2004 to work at Camp Ramah in Massachusetts after four years of service on Israel's northern border in the Israel Defence Forces. He embarks on a mission to assume the role of a shaliach (ambassador) of the Israeli army, one of two hundred Israeli soldiers who are allowed to spend their last two months of IDF service with North American youth.

Noam, at 22, will have much to share about his experiences with his peers, many of whom have just finished four years of University studies.

Noam will be able to relate his first hand experience of what it was like to be a sergeant in the Observer Corps of Israel's Artillery on the northern border with Lebanon. He served during the four years that have past since Israel's unilateral withdrawal of IDF troops who had been stationed there for 25 years inside the "security zone" of Southern Lebanon.

The architect of the withdrawal, Dr. Yossi Beilin, one of the architects of the Geneva Accords and an Israeli leftist, who was then the Justice Minister of Israel, told me a few days before Israel's withdrawal that the world and certainly the Lebanese would not dare launch any attacks against Israel so long as Israel would only withdraw to its internationally recognized northern border.

But if you closely followed the Israeli government TV amd radio and Israel Army Radio, you would not know that there have been just too many problems on the Northern border during the four years since Israel's surrender of the Security Zone. For those in the West, even less is heard.

That is for one reason: Israel hardly has any reporters up there. When there are no reporters you only hear what the government and the army want you to hear even in a democracy.

So one would think that Israel enjoys "relative quiet" on its northern frontier .

Well, since Noam was stationed up there and his job was to watch and report what was really transpiring, we, as parents, knew otherwise from Noam's furlough reports.

Moreover, the declassified IDF situation report that was issued on the day that Noam was discharged from the IDF on June 8th, 2004 speaks for itself:

In the four years since the IDF unilaterally redeployed its troops from Lebanon , the following attacks on Israel took place from the North:

34 attacks with mortar shells and anti-tank missiles into Northern Israel.

7 shooting attacks with light arms fire into Northern Israel.

8 roadside bombs that were planted in Northern Israel.

127 times when anti-aircraft missiles** were fired into Northen Israel.

5 Katusha rocket attacks into Northern Israel.

10 infiltrations into Northern Israel.

11 soldiers killed in Northern Israel & 3 IDF troops kidnapped and murdered.

50 soldiers who were wounded in Northern Israel.

7 civilians who were killed in Northern Israel.

Another 14 civilians were wounded in Northern Israel.

**The Israeli media often reported that these missiles were firing at Israeli aircraft, while this hardly is ever the case. As Ha'Aretz military expert Z'ev Schiff once explained after one of these anti-aircraft missiles killed a sixteen-year-old boy in Shlomi, the trajectories of these missiles were readjusted to act as surface-to surface missiles. The boy, who was sitting on some steps eating his lunch, was decapitated. However, since Israel's government and Israel army media reported that these were anti-aircraft missiles, most people in Israel assumed that these missiles were simply fired at Israeli aircraft. The observer corps of the Israeli artillery would beg to differ with that assessment.

Besides the above ten facts of life that Noam had to cope with on the northern border during his tenure there, Labor MK Ephraim Sneh has disclosed confirmed declassified IDF intelligence information that Arab terrorists have positioned 12,000 Missile sites ready to fire on northern Israel. These missiles have been positioned in what had been the "security zone" of Israel in southern Lebanon from where Israel withdrew earlier.

When Noam meets American youth this summer, he will have a task at hand to tell them what he saw.

My late father, Phillip Bedein, who grew up in the famous West End of Boston, asked one thing of his sons and his grandchildren in Israel: to let everyone back home know what is really going on over there.

Well, in a play on words, we raised Noam as an observant Jewish boy in Israel.

Noam had been a forward observer for the Israeli army for the past few years on the northern border of Israel just as my other grandfather, Abe Levy of Winthrop, Massachusetts had been a forward observer for the U.S. Army's artillery corps in France in the final days of World War I.

However, since the media hardly reports what goes on in the precarious north of Israel, Noam has a particular task to tell it like it is.

At a time when pressures around the world are mounting for Israel to make yet another unilateral withdrawal of troops from Gaza without any quid pro quo of peace in the south, our son was witness to what it means to move back Israeli troops and watch Israel's enemies simply assume their position to threaten even more the lives of the people of Israel.

Noam finished his tour of the IDF on the day after the ya'arzeit (anniversary date of death) for another Noam who was killed in action in Lebanon 22 years ago. That boy died 40 days before the birth of our Noam. The talmud notes that an angel of God provides the name of a new born child, 40 days before his birth. Our Noam came marching home from the border of Lebanon with a legacy to preserve. To tell it like it is: that Israel is real.

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Settlers Accuse Media of Waging 'Psychological War' to Weaken Resolve
Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief

Gush Katif, Gaza ( - Israelis living in the southern Gaza Strip settlement of Gush Katif say Israel's "left-wing" media is waging a psychological war against them to weaken their resolve so they'll give up their homes.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has pledged to remove the 7,800 Israelis who live in 22 communities in the Gaza Strip as part of his U.S-backed "disengagement plan."

The removal of Israeli residents from the Gaza Strip has been the subject of continuous Israeli media attention, but residents say that the coverage is one-sided -- aimed at causing them to give up without a fight.

There have been numerous reports in the Israeli media about compensation schemes and time frames for evacuation of the settlements.

On Friday, the Hebrew daily Ma'ariv reported that the process of implementing the disengagement plan was "speeding up" and a new schedule indicated that settlers willing to leave could begin requesting compensation by the end of this month. Forced evacuations could begin by the end of this year - nine months earlier than the September 15 date reported last week.

But Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg said that no Israeli official had approached the community or its members to speak to them about the withdrawal plan, packing up their homes or offering them compensation.

"Everything is psychological [warfare]," Sternberg said.

Yael Noyman, 42, and her husband Yossi raised their six children in the Gush Katif settlement of Neve Dekalim, where they have lived for 21 years. She said they try not to let all the talk about evacuation affect them.

"Every day we try to not let it influence us," Noyman said.

"It's really nerve-racking to see the news - the television, the newspaper, to hear the radio - very annoying. They're speaking only about this . . . It's hard also to hear and also that everyone wants . . . the evacuation of the settlements," she said. "We are trying to live day by day [and] maintain our routine."

Gush Katif resident Rivka Goldschmidt, 53, said she's sometimes depressed by all the talk. "We're not thinking about it. God will help and we will remain here . . . We have to [go on], otherwise you can go berserk."

Goldschmidt charged that the government is using an all-too-willing media to pressure settlers into giving up their homes.

"[The government] is putting psychological pressure on us through the press," said Goldschmidt. "The press in Israel is known to be left -- strong left-wing [liberal] -- and they're using them, and [the media] are too willing to cooperate.

"The media in Israel is only looking for opportunities to push down our spirit and to be able to advertise messages that would penetrate into our heads and will make us feel that the battle is over," she added.

It was the left-wing government of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that signed the Oslo Accords with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn under the watchful eye of President Bill Clinton and then began the handover of land in the Gaza Strip and West Bank to Palestinian control.

Most of the Gaza Strip, with its more than 1.2 million Arab residents, came under the control of the Palestinian Authority at that time, with the fate of the Jewish communities there left for later resolution.

As defense minister, Sharon encouraged the building of Jewish settlements on the empty sand dunes in Gaza in the 1980s as part of the country's security program. But every since then, every time there was trouble in the Gaza Strip, the public debate over the future of the settlements has been rekindled in the press.

Goldschmidt, an English teacher and her husband Michael, who is a grower and exporter of flower bulbs to the U.S. and Europe, said they moved to the Gush Katif settlement of Ganei Tal 27 years ago for "purely ideological reasons."

They believe the Gaza Strip is part of the Land of Israel promised to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance in the Bible and taken back in recent history through a series of victories. Goldschmidt said she sees those victories as God-given signs that Israel belongs there.

"[There was] never was a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria [West Bank] or the rest of Israel . . . Israel as a state, as a land, was occupied by many nations through history and has been given the name Palestine in order to demolish and detach every link between the sons of Israel and the Land of Israel," she said.

But according to Goldschmidt, there also are a large number of Israelis who have detached themselves from their historical roots and are willing to give up parts of the biblical Land of Israel.

Among them are some Israelis living in the three settlements in the northern Gaza Strip, which are very close to the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, who are not so ideologically motivated and are willing to take the compensation and leave, she said.

"The media is falling all over them and broadcasting their opinion and the way they are dealing with it in order to create the picture that the whole of Gush Katif is [cast] down and is running to the government and asking for compensation, which is a totally warped and twisted picture," she said.

"[Last] Friday, it sounded really bad, when all the channels and radio channels have repeated over and over again, 'This is the compensation you are due to get and this is when you're starting to get the first bit of it and those and those settlements have already agreed to it.' There's nothing in it. No truth behind it," she added.

According to Goldschmidt, parliamentarian Zvi Hendel, who also lives in Ganei Tal, encouraged the residents to be strong.

"We are strong but we can't even tell the people in Israel that we are strong because we don't have an open microphone to say it," Goldschmidt said.

Hendel, a member of the conservative National Union party, whose ministers were fired from the government prior to the cabinet vote on the disengagement plan two weeks ago, said he is certain that Gush Katif will not be evacuated, no matter what is being said.

"It is impossible to lead a democracy . . . like a dictatorship," Hendel said by telephone.

"You can't take a referendum and afterwards throw the results in the trash," he said in reference to the Likud party referendum, which voted against the disengagement plan by a large majority.

Sharon cannot fire two ministers from the cabinet just because he doesn't like what they say, he added.

There is "no doubt" the government will collapse within a few months and then the plan will fall apart, he said. Sharon's government has shrunk to a minority government although press reports suggest that he is trying to bring the leftwing Labor party into his coalition.

Hendel is so confident that Israel won't be leaving Gush Katif that he plans to throw a party there in five years. In fact, he invited to cover the party when it happens.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

This piece ran on the CNSNews Wire on June 16th, 2004

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Israel Upset By Reports of Bashing at Palestinian Refugee Conference
Julie Stahl
Jerusalem Bureau Chief

Jerusalem ( - Israel expressed its disappointment on Monday over its exclusion from an international conference on Palestinian refugees and over reports that the conference was used as a platform for Israel-bashing.

The two-day conference, held in Geneva, Switzerland last week, was hosted by the Swiss government, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which is the U.N. agent for humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees.

It brought together more than 400 representatives from 67 countries and 34 international organizations "to increase international support" for the needs of Palestinian refugees, organizers said. Israel was not among those invited to the conference.

The issue of resettling Palestinian refugees is among the thorniest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians insisting on what they call the "right of return" for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendents to within the borders of Israel.

Liberal and conservative Israelis agree that such a scenario would be a demographic time bomb bringing about the end of Israel as a Jewish state within a few years.

The conference was supposed to be about raising donor support and awareness of the Palestinian refugee humanitarian needs and was supposed to exclude the issue of the "right of return," U.N. sources said.

But according to David Bedein, bureau chief of the Israel Resource News Agency, the issue of the "right of return" was just one among many that displayed an "invective" against Israel.

"UNRWA allowed the PLO Refugee Affairs Department to put up a table in which it distributed its materials to promote the 'right of return,'" said Bedein in an article published on the agency's website.

"The PLO distributed precise maps of where and how the UNRWA camp residents could take back their homes from 1948," said Bedein, who attended the conference.

Israel said on Monday that it had expressed its regrets prior to the conference over not having been invited and was also disappointed by reports that the conference had been allowed to slide into "Israel-bashing."

"We deplore the fact that according to the media reports this congress served as a platform for political declarations against Israel," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"We expressed it to the Swiss authorities, and we intend to raise this issue with UNRWA representatives," it said.

Andre Motyl, deputy to the Swiss Ambassador in Tel Aviv, said that while the Swiss had hosted the conference, UNRWA would have been responsible for inviting the guests.

UNRWA holds two major donor meetings each year, said Paul McCann, chief spokesman for UNRWA here. Israel was not invited, because it is not a donor country to UNRWA, McCann said.

According to McCann, he said he understood that Israel was glad not to have been invited to the conference because political speech and rhetoric were avoided and the conference could be maintained as a humanitarian project.

A Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem said that Israel is never invited to the UNRWA conferences, because it is not a donor, but this conference was different.

This conference was billed as "the largest conference on the Palestine refugee issue in 56 years," i.e. since the beginning of the Palestinian refugee issue.

According to the official, Israel was told that it was not invited because it was not a donor or potential donor country, nor was it a host country of Palestinian refugees even if it is involved with the greatest number of Palestinians.

There are nearly 1.7 million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, 387,000 in Lebanon, 401,000 in Syria and some 1.5 million refugees among more than 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While Israel does not give direct aid to UNRWA, the Israeli official said, it does contribute to the U.N., from which part of UNRWA's budget is drawn, and it does facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries to the Palestinians and does not tax that aid.

Israel is not "anti-aid to UNRWA," the official said.

According to UNRWA, there are some 4.1 million Palestinian refugees. Palestinian sources generally quote a higher figure of some six million.

The U.N.'s definition for a Palestinian refugee is different from its definition of all other refugees worldwide.

According to UNRWA's operational definition found on its website "Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was [British Mandatory] Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict . . . UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948.

"The number of registered Palestine refugees has subsequently grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than four million in 2002, and continues to rise due to natural population growth," it says.

United Nations High Commission For Refugees, which handles refugee concerns, defines a refugee on its website as "a person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there for fear of persecution."

This piece ran on the CNSNews Wire on June 14th, 2004

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No Comparison Between Settlement Evacuations Then -- and Now, Some Say
Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief

Jerusalem ( - When Israeli citizen Yael Noyman settled in the Gush Katif settlement of Neve Dekalim 21 years ago, the Israeli government told her it was the most important place to live.

She had just been evacuated from the Sinai settlement of Atzmona as a result of the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords mediated by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter at Camp David.

Now Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is pledging to move Noyman for a second time, along with her husband, children and some 7,800 other people living in 22 Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. The evacuation is part of Sharon's U.S.-backed unilateral "disengagement plan."

More than 1.2 million Palestinians live in crowded conditions in the Gaza Strip, but the Israelis there are quick to point out that the Israeli communities were built on uninhabited sand dunes -- and the businesses and agriculture they have developed now provide employment for the local Arab population.

In a speech in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Sharon said that his disengagement plan follows in the footsteps of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who signed the first-ever peace agreement with an Arab nation, Egypt, in 1979. That agreement led to the removal of some 5,000 residents of Israeli communities built in the Sinai Desert.

Several years before that, Israel built more than 20 settlements and two major towns - Ophira and Yamit - in a 30-mile stretch in the Sinai desert along the Israeli-Sinai border as a security buffer zone.

Sharon said that Begin had been willing to pay the "painful price" of evacuating the settlements in order to make peace with Egypt. He quoted Begin as saying he would "carry this pain" in his heart until the day he died but that it had been his "duty" as prime minister to carry it out.

"As prime minister, I have acted in this spirit, to this day, and I intend to continue," said Sharon, who was Begin's defense minister at the time.

But Israelis removed from those Sinai settlements 20 years ago -- who now live in Gush Katif at the southern end of the Gaza Strip -- say there is no comparison between the Sinai evacuation back then and Sharon's disengagement plan now.

"It is impossible to compare the evacuation of Yamit and the evacuation of Gush Katif," said Noyman, 42, a mother of six.

"All the area of the strip of Yamit [in the Sinai] was comparatively young - seven or eight years - before the agreement was signed," she said. Some residents of Gush Katif have been living there for more than 30 years, she added.

"First of all we are still hoping that it won't happen," Noyman said. "Then [in the early 80s] they told us, 'It's the biggest Arab state, it's worth it to make peace with them' - not that we agreed - but I was young.

"Today we know that we are giving up a big factory of life [vibrant community] really for nothing. [The Palestinians] are not promising us anything. It's not that they're promising us anything and they're not honest; they're not promising us anything in exchange!" she said.

But what really bothers Noyman, she said, is the non-democratic way that the process is taking place. Prior to the Sharon's Likud party referendum, in which a majority of Likud members voted against the disengagement plan, members of Gush Katif worked day and night to mobilize opposition to the plan, she said.

"Today we see that it's not really a democratic process. The ministers whose opinions were unfavorable in Sharon's eyes were fired. Sharon ignored the results of the vote and actually he's doing what he wants to do," Noyman said.

(Sharon skirted the results of the referendum and brought the plan to a cabinet vote, firing two cabinet ministers before the government vote on the plan in order to make sure it would pass.)

If, on the other hand, there was an orderly process and real possibility for peace, "I don't think anyone would prevent the peace," she said. "It's hard to think about this process, about evacuation. I can't think about it."

Noyman was 20 years old when she was moved from the Sinai settlement of Atzmona, where she had lived for two years as part of her national service, in lieu of serving in the army.

"Atzmona was founded on the day they signed Camp David. It was a settlement founded as a protest against Camp David," she said.

When it came time for evacuation, the residents of Atzmona made a deal with the army that they wouldn't resist and in exchange the media wouldn't be allowed to cover the evacuation. The army brought in buses and moved them out quietly.

Because they were in the middle of the harvest season, the army brought them back every day for a week to pick melons and peppers, returning them to the settlement of Morag in the afternoon.

In a scrapbook, Noyman had pictures and clippings of her days there, boarding the bus to leave, rubble of a destroyed building, and the empty plot where her living quarters had been.

"It was very hard. When they returned us to the settlement [Atzmona], what we saw was very terrible and sad . . . They had taken the trailers [where we lived]. There was a big dining room that they had built there, and [the army] had destroyed it . . . The settlement was empty," she said.

"[After the evacuation] the government told us that the most important place to live now is Gush Katif. 'Live in Gush Katif,'" she said.

Noyman, who works for the Education Ministry, and her husband Yossi, who is a building project manager, then moved to Neve Dekalim where there was no water or electricity. They have lived there now for 21 years.

Neve Dekalim, with some 2,600 residents, is the largest of the Jewish communities thriving in the Gaza Strip. Neat red-tile roof homes with beautiful landscaping line the streets; and in many places, homes have a view across the sand dunes to the Mediterranean Sea.

"I think that the government that brought us to live here is really responsible," she said. "The second time to evacuate us, where will we go from here? This is only the beginning, its clear that the evacuation from Gush Katif is only the beginning."

Although Atzmona was evacuated quietly, the city of Yamit was not. Television images of Israeli soldiers fighting with other Jews to get them to leave pierced the nation.

Yigal Kirshenzaft, 45, had lived in Yamit for five years before he was evacuated. He and his wife Zippora were the first family in Neve Dekalim. They have 12 children now and have lived there for 22 years.

"I thought to do everything I could not to leave [Yamit] but then [the situation] was not what we have today," said Kirshenzaft, who manages a girls' school in Gush Katif.

"Then there was a treaty [in 1979], an agreement between states . . . today, there is nothing. There is only a vague folly of Sharon's . . . without a goal, without an agreement. Even if there was an agreement I would oppose it but at least there would be something to think [about]," he said.

Kirshenzaft said although there had been many peace plans throughout the years, he was nevertheless, surprised by Sharon's commitment to give up the settlements.

"I was surprised because I voted for him in elections because he said he wouldn't evacuate settlements. [Contender Labor Party leader Amram] Mitzna said he would evacuate settlements and Sharon said he wouldn't evacuate . . . for that I voted for him," he said.

Nevertheless, Kirshenzaft said he does not believe that the withdrawal from Gaza will actually take place.

"There are many reasons," he said. "I think the [Israeli] people are . . . not stupid. There is no agreement. There is no profit from this, no promises that there won't be terror . . . It's a pressure cooker that will explode."

People ask how they can live in the Gush Katif surrounded by so many Arabs, but if one looks at a map of Middle East, Israel is hardly visible, Kirshenzaft said. "All our existence is one big miracle."

"We can't cave in here. If we fold here it will reach Jerusalem . . . It's important that Americans know what we are doing here, will help them regarding terrorism. Terror is the same terror. Islam is the same Islam. All the Islam in the world will take strength from what happens here in Gaza . . . If they succeed here, it will give power to all the Islamists in the world," he said.

This ran on the CNSNews Wire on June 17, 2004

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UNRWA's refugee trove 9 June 2004

Dr. Joseph Lerner
Co-Director IMRA

Excerpts: UNRWA's refugee trove 9 June 2004 JORDAN TIMES 9 June '04;
"Refugees at crossroads between violence and opportunity - UN"

Quotes From Text:
"Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries Fund announced a $2.5 million contribution"

The United States reiterated that it would only come up with more if it felt that 'other countries are doing their share.' "


GENEVA (AFP) Four million Palestinian refugees are at a "crucial juncture" following decades of dashed hopes and flagging aid which might turn the increasingly young population into "gun-slinging militants," a senior UN official warned Tuesday.

[IMRA: So what is UNRWA doing to discourage extremism? It uses textbooks in its schools that encourage hatred and does not prohibit the use of it's housing for terrorist activities.]

After reaching and sometimes exceeding regional standards for education and health, the refugees "are now sliding towards the bottom," Peter Hansen, head of the UN agency dealing with the Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said.

"The Palestinian refugee population is at a crucial juncture," Hansen told delegates from 67 countries attending a conference here, which is examining ways of reviving support for the refugees.

With progress in health care, one-third of the refugees are now under 14

[IMRA: What has been done in family planning? Egypt and Jordan among other Arab countries publicly strive to reduce birth rates. Palestinian Authority school textbooks praise large families.]

but growing violence in the region and declining socio-economic support mean that Palestinian youngsters are confronted with two basic role models they could follow. "There's that of the hooded, gun-slinging militant, or that of the modern young computer whizz," Hansen explained.

"The youth bulge can be an opportunity, under the right conditions. Or it can be an enormous handicap under the wrong conditions," he added.

Most of the refugees, scattered around the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries, are heavily dependent on UNRWA, which provides healthcare, education and economic development. But it received less than half of its $196 million emergency funding last year, which is meant to deal with the impact of violence, curfews and closures in the territories, according to UNRWA.

Of the overall $438 million budget pledged last year - which also fell short of target - 25 per cent was funded by the United States, and about 55 per cent by west European countries or the EU Commission. A similar shortfall is emerging this year.

The number of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank relying on the agency for food aid has risen from 130,000 to 1.1 million since September 2000, according to the UN.

[IMRA: An increase of over 45% because of the intifada.]

That largely coincided with the resurgence in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the collapse of the peace process. The organisers, UNRWA and the Swiss government, had already announced that the conference was designed to swap ideas and not to pledge money, and the agency appeared well short of filling its financial hole.

On Tuesday, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund announced a $2.5 million . . . contribution to some UNRWA financial programmes, and there was little sign of further funding expected from Gulf countries. Switzerland promised about two million Swiss francs ($1.6 million), Canada, Australia and New Zealand also came up with additional cash, and Japan announced that about five million extra dollars were in the pipeline.

Officials from some European countries said they were ready to grant new money, but largely declined to say how much.

The United States reiterated that it would only come up with more if it felt that "other countries are doing their share," US Assistant Secretary of State Arthur Dewey said.

The two-day conference, which was held behind closed doors, also steered clear of political issues, although they are intertwined with the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian refugees.

The total number of Palestinian refugees has grown from 950,000 in 1950 to about four million today, adding to the aid burden.

[IMRA: Unlike the programs for all other refugee populations, that of the Palestinians' expressly excludes resettlement outside the homeland. UNRWA is dedicated to maximizing the number of refugees in it's jurisdiction.]

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