Israel PM wants UNRWA closed amid US aid cut threat
Iran Press TV
Sun Jan 7, 2018 02:50PM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the closure of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees after US President Donald Trump cut the funding for the organization.
Netanyahu said at the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on Sunday that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) needed to pass away from the world.
"I completely agree with President Trump's sharp criticism of UNRWA. UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem, and perpetuates also the narrative of the so-called right of return, whose goal is the elimination of Israel. For these reasons, UNRWA should be shut down," the Israeli prime minister said.
"This is a body established separately 70 years ago, just for Palestinian refugees, while the UNHCR exists for all other refugees in the world," Netanyahu said, referring to the UN refugee agency that is also known as the UNHCR. "This has led to the situation where the great-grandchildren of refugees, who are not themselves refugees, are cared for by UNRWA, and in 70 more years there will be great-grandchildren of those great-grandchildren, and so this absurdity has to end."
UNRWA runs hundreds of schools for Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
It also distributes aid and provides teacher training centers, health clinics and social services.
Washington has cut off $125 million in funding for UNRWA.
On January 2, Trump, in a number of messages posted on Twitter, threatened to cut Washington's aid to Palestinians, currently worth more than $300 million a year, alleging that the Palestinian Authority was no longer willing to engage in the so-called peace talks with Israel.
Tensions between the United States and Palestinians started escalating after Trump announced last month that Washington would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the "capital" of Israel and would relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the United States to withdraw its controversial decision regarding al-Quds.
Jerusalem al-Quds remains at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians hoping that the eastern part of the city would eventually serve as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state.
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