Netanyahu tiptoes around United States threat to cut off Palestinian aid

09 January, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Gregory Stephens
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In a series of tweets on Sunday evening, a spokesperson for the United Nations agency said it would continue providing help to Palestinian refugees until the worldwide community comes up with a solution for their plight.

Netanyahu said UNRWA was "an organisation that perpetuates the Palestinian problem". He added that the organization "must disappear" because the Palestinians' right to return to Israel was a stance meant to eliminate the State of Israel.

He said that while millions of other refugees around the world were cared for by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians have their own body which also treats "great-grandchildren of refugees - who aren't refugees".

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. Now, 70-years-later, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, many scattered across the region in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) supports a gradual cut to UNRWA", said the senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity.


In June, Netanyahu said he had raised the issue with Washington's United Nations envoy Nikki Haley.

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. For example, Breitbart Jerusalem reported last week that the agency was unable to confirm whether its statistic of 500,000 was a true reflection of the number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon when that country's own bureau of statistics cites 175,000 - almost two thirds less than UNRWA's number.

Israel's Channel 10 television reported Friday that the United States had already frozen a payment to UNRWA, but a spokesman for the UN aid agency said Saturday that they "have not been informed directly of a formal decision either way by the U.S. administration".

Many analysts, including Israelis, warn that closing the agency without having an effective replacement could lead to further poverty and perhaps violence.

"In an extreme situation, the administration of those refugees could fall on Israel's shoulders".

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