Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told his Cabinet that the U.N. Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for aiding Palestinian refugees, perpetuates the problem and should be shut down.
Netanyahu said that UNRWA is focused on Palestinian refugees and that its funding should instead be shifted to the U.N.’s blanket refugee agency.
“It also perpetuates the right of return narrative in order to eliminate the state of Israel, therefore UNRWA must become a thing of the past,” Netanyahu said.
This statement comes in line with US threats to cut funds to the UNRWA, the body which serves millions of Palestinian refugees, if the Palestinians do not return to negotiations with Israel.
In response, Netanyahu said he supports a “gradual cutback” of funding for the UNRWA.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the agency will continue its work until there is a “just and lasting solution” for the refugees.
“What perpetuates the refugee crisis is the failure of the parties to deal with the issue. This needs to be resolved by the parties to the conflict in the context of peace talks, based on U.N. resolutions and international law, and requires the active engagement by the international community,” Gunness said in a statement.