Yet Hamas is not the only Palestinian group at fault. In 2005, shortly after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, I met with the chief of staff to the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. My question to him: Now that we have uprooted thousands of Jews and empowered Gazans to be masters of their own fate, can we hope that within a year's time there will be fewer refugees in the camps? "Absolutely not," he said. "The refugees will be relocated only in the context of the final status [agreement]. How can we move them if we do not know where they will live? Maybe they will live in Israel."
In withdrawing from Gaza, Israel made painful concessions for peace by forcibly removing Jews from their homes. And yet even the Palestinian Authority, the most moderate among Palestinian political groups, would not consider easing their own people's plight in the wake of Israel's compromise. This is because the suffering of the refugees is essential to their broader political struggle.
How does the West respond to the obvious exploitation of Palestinian refugees? Soon after my meeting with Mr. Abbas's chief of staff, I met with the ambassador of one of the West's most enlightened countries. I asked: Why are the Palestinians not willing to help their own refugees? "I can understand them," he answered. "After all, they don't want the refugee problem to be taken off the agenda."
This reflexive "understanding" for the Palestinian leaders' abuse of their own people is the heart of the problem. For decades, the international community has actively assisted in building the terrorists' unique system of control -- over where Palestinians live and in what conditions, and over what they think -- by allowing terrorists to turn the refugee camps into the center of the Palestinian war machine. Instead of working to relieve the refugees' misery, the United Nations has dedicated an entire agency, UNRWA, to perpetuating it. For the rest of the world's refugees, the U.N. works tirelessly to improve their conditions, to relocate them, and to help them rebuild their lives as quickly as possible. With the Palestinians, the U.N. does exactly the opposite, granting refugee status to the great-grandchildren of people displaced in 1948, doing nothing to dismantle the camps, and acting as facilitators for the terrorists' goal of grinding an entire civilian population under their thumb. Nowhere on earth do terrorists get so much help from the Free World.
It is long past time for UNRWA to be disbanded. It is long past time for European and other countries to blindly stop the billions in aid money to the Palestinian Authority until all terror activity has stopped.