Palestinian officials: Basic humanitarian services to refugees is not a bargaining chip

Bethlehem/PNN/ Munjed Jadou

PLO Executive Committee Dr. Hanan Ashrawi  commented  on USA  announcement to freezes than half of aid fund to un Palestinian refugee agency saying :”Once again the U.S Administration proves its complicity with the Israeli occupation by attempting to remove another permanent status issue off the table.

Ashrawi added that this administration is thereby targeting the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and depriving the refugees of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life.

The U.S. Administration seems to be following Netanyahu’s instructions to gradually dismantle the one agency that was established by the international community to protect the rights of the Palestinian refugees and
provide them with essential services Ashrawi said.

It is also creating conditions that will generate further instability throughout the region and will demonstrate that it has no compunction in targeting the innocent Ashrawi added.

For his part the P.L.O General Delegation to the United States regarding the administration decision Dr. Husam Zomlot, head of the Delegation stated that, “Palestinian refugees and children’s access to basic humanitarian services, such as food, healthcare and education is not a bargaining chip but a U.S. and international obligation.”

Zomlot said:“taking away food and education from vulnerable refugees does not bring a lasting and comprehensive peace,” warning that, “heeding Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s zero sum game to take Jerusalem off the table and now attempting to dismantle UNRWA, thinking that it would relinquish the rights of Palestinian refugees is a fallacy.”

Dr. Zomlot added that, “the rights of Palestinian refugees will not be compromised by a financial decision,” asserting that, “the rights of Palestine refugees are enshrined in international law and UN resolutions sponsored and supported by the U.S., including the establishment of UNRWA in December 1949. Consequently, since UNRWA began its operations, every US administration, from President Truman onwards, has honored the commitment towards the refugee agency.”

The statement ascertains that “it is indefensible that the United States would withhold for Palestine refugees-or any population in need, adding that, “these actions add greater uncertainty to an already volatile situation in Palestine and in the region, and run against the core values of the US and the international system.”

The PLO supports UNRWA’s mission and values international obligations towards to the issue of Palestine refugees. Funding to UNRWA should continue unabated, we urge the United States to continue its commitments to fully fund UNRWA, and to encourage other governments to do the same.

Palestinian comments came after U.S. officials released the preliminary budget for the organization responsible for aiding Palestinian refugees.

The United States will withhold $65 million from a payment it was scheduled to send this month to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency responsible for assisting Palestinian refugees and their descendents in the Middle East.

The U.S. will still provide $60 million in aid for Palestinians this month, amounting to roughly half the planned sum of $125 million the officials said.

This payment is the first in a number of sums the U.S. is expected to give UNRWA in 2018.

“The United States has been UNRWA’s single largest donor for decades. In years past, we contributed some thirty percent of UNRWA’s total income,” the official added. “It is time for a change.

The United States remains committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable, as it is demonstrating today by assuring that funds are available to keep schools and health systems operating.

If there are additional urgent needs, we call on others to also do their part and respond as needed – not only the more than 50 countries that have contributed in the past, but also those other countries that have the means but have not yet lent their support.”