Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, needs to disappear.
“I fully agree with President [Donald] Trump’s strong criticism of UNRWA,” Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. He was referring to the US president’s tweet last week threatening to cut aid to the Palestinians, including to UNRWA, if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiation table.
“UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees,” he said. “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 disappear.”
As a result, he said, UNRWA is dealing with the great-grandchildren of refugees, and in another 70 years they will be dealing with great-great-grandchildren of refugees. “This absurdity has to stop,” he declared.
“I made a simple suggestion, that the funds for UNRWA should be gradually transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with clear criteria for supporting real refugees, rather than fictitious refugees, which is what is happening today under UNRWA,” he said.
Netanyahu said he relayed this position to the US, and that this is the way to terminate UNRWA while dealing with the genuine Palestinian refugees, and not their descendants.
The news comes after President Trump last week tweeted his thoughts on the funding of Palestinians.
Trump tweeted on 2 January 2018 that the U.S. pays the Palestinians “HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year” and gets “no appreciation or respect” in return. Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, later told reporters the administration would cut off aid if the Palestinians refused to take part in peace talks with Israel.
The USA is the largest donor to UNRWA, giving more than $300 million annually to the organisation.