This paper focuses on the political dimensions of UNRWA's mandate and activities through an analysis of its relations with the Palestinian national movement. The evolution of the UNRWA-PLO relationship, from uneasy coexistence to active partnership, parallels changes in each of the two bodies: UNRWA's movement toward greater politicization, and the PLO's gradual embrace of developmental goals associated with the state-building process. The article ends by touching on the problems inherent in the new development approach, particularly with reference to the refugees' right of return.

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