Netanyahu backs USA criticism of UNRWA, says it should cease to exist


Israeli Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, supports a gradual cutback of the U.S. funding to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees, according to Israeli reports. An Israeli security source told Channel 10 on Friday the funding cuts to UNRWA would make an already tense situation in Gaza "much worse".

The US has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304 million for United Nations programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

Amman is concerned that potential unrest in the Palestinian territories could spill over into Jordan, which has a sizeable Palestinian population that originally flooded into the country in the aftermath of the 1948 and 1967 wars.

He was referring to Trump's tweet last week threatening to cut aid to the Palestinians, including to UNRWA, if Palestinians do not return to the negotiation table. All countries have so far located their embassies in Tel Aviv, in order to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Netanyahu complained that the U.N. Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) is focused exclusively on Palestinian refugees and that its funding should instead be shifted to the U.N.'s blanket refugee agency.

Israel's Hadashot TV news reported on Saturday that Netanyahu's suggestion to reroute UNRWA's money to another United Nations body, with the funds still going to aid Palestinian refugees, would allow the U.S. to back up its threat to cut funding, but also minimize any damage the funding cut could wreak in Gaza.

Under the previous Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, the status of Jerusalem should be determined through the final-status talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials said they had been making an effort to gain European Union's (EU) recognition of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, after the USA recognized Jerusalem as Israeli capital. With Israel now unashamedly formalising and expanding its occupation, it will take the efforts of millions of people like Tamimi to beat back this US-Israel nexus.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the agency will continue its work until there is a "just and lasting solution" for the refugees.

The Arab League will seek worldwide recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, the Jordanian foreign minister said on Saturday, after Arab foreign ministers met in Amman to discuss Washington's recognition of the holy city as Israel's capital.

In this regard, Abu Hasna said that UNRWA was not informed of any official USA decision to halt financial aid.

Similarly, it is doubtful he can offer anything to the Palestinians that would induce them to accept the loss of East Jerusalem in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza (assuming Israel would agree to even that).