Khaled: Dismantling UNRWA depends on return of Palestinian refugees to their homes

PNN/ Ramallah/

PLO Executive Committee member and member of the Politbureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Tayseer Khaled, described the Israeli PM Netanyahu’s call to dissolve the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) during his meeting with USA Ambassador to the UNs, Nikki Hailey last week, as rude and provocative that aimed at eradicating the international witness of the Israeli war crimes and displacement of the Palestinian people from their cities and villages in 1948.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian Refugees was formed under UN General Assembly Resolution 302 of 1949 to take care of those Palestinians, who were expelled from their homes as a result of the massacres and crimes committed against them by the armed Zionist and settler gangs, Khaled said, adding that its formation came within the context of the international obligation to provide basic services to them education, health care and social relief fields, until the State of Israel’s compliance to the UNS’ provisions to be accepted as a member should it allows the return of Palestinian Refugees to their homeland under the UN General Assembly under resolution 194, and that the General Assembly has the right to change the resolution.

Khaled also warned of the dangers resulted from the USA or other countries’ tantalization with the Israeli State or its Premier’s call to dismantle the UNRWA for Palestine Refugees, and to merge the Palestinian Refugees’ Cause with the UNs’ High Commissioner. He assured that the Palestinian Side will never sign any agreement anytime with Israel that stipulates to end our demands or to accept the Jewish State or to dissolve the UNRWA before reaching a just solution for the Palestinian Refugees under the UNs’ resolution # 194 that calls for their return homes, which they left by force.

Netanyahu called on Sunday for the dismantling of the UN agency that aids millions of Palestinian refugees, accusing it of anti-Israeli incitement and saying he had conveyed his message to the US ambassador to the United Nations.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a Gaza-based spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said Netanyahu was pursuing a “fantasy”. The United States, Israel’s main ally, was the biggest donor to UNRWA last year, pledging $368 million.

In public remarks to his cabinet at its weekly meeting, Netanyahu said UNRWA perpetuated, rather than solved, the Palestinian refugee problem and that anti-Israeli incitement was rife in its institutions, which includes schools.

“It is time UNRWA be dismantled and merged with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,” Netanyahu said.

Referring to a meeting he held in Jerusalem on Wednesday with Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, Netanyahu said: “I told her it was time the United Nations re-examine UNRWA’s existence.”

UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 war that followed Israel’s creation. It says it currently aids five million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

Chris Gunness, UNRWA’s chief spokesman, said in an email to Reuters that only the General Assembly, by a majority vote, could change the agency’s mandate. “In December 2016, UNRWA’s mandate was extended for three years by the General Assembly by a large majority,” he added.

UNRWA’s spokesperson Abu Hasna, speaking in Hebrew on Israel Radio, cautioned that if “UNRWA is gone” in the Gaza Strip, where its food, educational and health services are crucial, two million people will turn into Daesh supporters.”

In a statement issued in response to Netanyahu’s calls, Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “There is only one reason that the UNRWA provides crucial humanitarian support to five million Palestinian refugees – the continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli military and state and the denial of the right of return.”

Netanyahu’s notion that the UNRWA ‘perpetuates’ Palestine’s refugee problem suggests a break with reality. Netanyahu’s Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said that disloyal Palestinian citizens of Israel should be beheaded, and his Justice Minster, Ayelet Shaked, described Palestinian children as ‘little snakes’. Let’s take his complaints about incitement with a pinch of salt.”