UN Agency In Palestine Says To Continue Work Under UN Mandate

Casey Dawson
January 9, 2018

UNRWA, the United Nations' agency for Palestine refugees, rebuffed calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down the agency's operations and redirect the aid to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

What perpetuates the refugee crisis is the failure of the parties to deal with the issue. Privately, it understands that US support for both UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority is in Israel's interest because it maintains the status quo and alleviates a financial burden for Israel. The U.S. later denied the report, saying the funding was still "under review". "It also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called right of return with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and therefore UNRWA must pass away".

Trump threatened earlier this week to withhold future aid payments to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) over what he called the Palestinians' unwillingness to talk peace with Israel.

Observers said UNRWA's support for Palestinian refugees actually helped Israel, by taking responsibility for the health, education and overall well-being of displaced Palestinians and their offspring.

The UN itself released a report in 2015 that found Palestinian terror groups used three empty UN-run schools in Gaza as a weapons cache. Netanyahu's calls could have major repercussions for the 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and 174,422 now living in the country.

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"UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem", Netanyahu said at the start of the government's weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said the agency had not been notified of a formal United States decision on funding. The report suggested that Netanyahu would prefer that the funding cut be implemented gradually.

"We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect", Trump tweeted. "We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more".

A Friday report on Israeli Channel 10 television said the USA had frozen a payment due to UNRWA, but a spokesman for the United Nations organisation said on Saturday that they "have not been informed directly of a formal decision either way by the U.S. administration".

"At this time, no such decisions have been made", the official added.

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