PM calls for gradual cuts in funding to UNRWA as to not support “fictitious refugees”; US State Department denies it cut funds to UNRWA.
Prime Minister Netanyahu called for gradual cuts in funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), following the United States announcement it would be decreasing aid to the United Nations.
Reports surfaced that the United States cut one-third, $125 million, of its annual aid to the UNRWA, the State Department denying the reports this weekend, stating “Contrary to reports that we have halted funding to UNRWA, the decision is under review.”
President Trump announced last month that the United States would not be “taken advantage of any longer” at the United Nations, who “take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” in reference to the recent UN General Assembly vote on Jerusalem.
During his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister called for the “absurdity to stop” through gradual cuts to organization, stating that the “UNRWA needs to pass from the world.” Netanyahu addressed the corrupt policies of the organization, calling for funds to be shifted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in order to aid legitimate refugees crises.
Netanyahu stated that he agrees “completely with US President Trump’s sharp criticism of UNRWA,” reiterating that the “UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem. It also perpetuates the narrative of the right-of-return, as it were, in order to eliminate the State of Israel; therefore, UNRWA needs to pass from the world.”
Addressing the history of the organization and its corrupt practices, he stated “This is an agency that was established 70 years ago, only for Palestinian refugees, at a time when the UNHCR [United Nations Human Rights Council] deals with global refugee problems. Of course this creates a situation in which there are great-grandchildren of refugees, who are not refugees but who are cared for by UNRWA, and another 70 years will pass and those great-grandchildren will have great-grandchildren and therefore, this absurdity needs to stop.”
He called for “gradual” shifts in funding from the UNRWA to the UNHCR “with clear criteria for supporting genuine refugees, not fictitious refugees as happens today under UNRWA,” reporting that he also “brought this position to the attention of the United States.”
The UNRWA claims to provide “assistance and protection to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” since 1949. The organization received $319 million from the United States in 2016, yet the UNWRA claims it is “confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.”
Photo: Netanyahu, Wikimedia Commons, 2017