Ashrawi: US has no right to dissolve UNRWA, revoke rights of Palestinian Refugees

Ramallah / PNN/

Member of the PLO Executive Committee, Hanan Ashrawi, said that the United States does not have the legal and judicial authority to dissolve the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Furthermore, it does not have any mand ate to revoke the rights of Palestinian refugees or to amend international law in order to protect Israel and provide it with legal and political cover for its crimes and racial violations.

Ashrawi’s comments came after Foreign Policy magazine reported leaked emails from President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, advocating the elimination of UNRWA and relocating Palestinian refugees to current host countries.

“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in an email to several senior government officials, including Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt.

The contents of the email are indicative of a larger effort to remove Palestinian refugees from final status issues and the adoption of a new number of Palestinian refugees of not more than 40,000. It also seeks to settle the refugee issue as a prelude to the liquidation of the Palestinian cause and the abolition of Palestinians’ right to exist while preserving the Jewish state.

“Instead of holding Israel accountable for its crimes against our Palestinian people, US officials and some members of the US Congress are drafting laws and resolutions that target the most vulnerable of our people with the aim of destroying and abrogating their rights under international law,” said the PLO official.

Last week, a bill was introduced in the the US Congress seeking to recognize only 40,000 Palestinian refugees rather than the 5.3 million that actually exist.

According to Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, who is sponsoring the bill, “refugee status is not something that can be handed down from generation to generation.”

As a result, Lamborn’s bill wants any US money paid to UNRWA going solely to Palestinians directly affected by the 1948 war and not their descendants.

Ashrawi also pointed out that “Kushner’s letters confirm his determination to resettle the refugees in the host countries and give them full responsibility instead of UNRWA to eliminate any opportunity to implement the right of return.”

The international community has long recognized the existence of Palestinian refugees. International law and international humanitarian law have also affirmed that Palestinian refugees and their descendants will retain their status as refugees until a solution is found to their cause and a return to their homes on the basis of UN resolution 194.

According to UNRWA, Palestinian refugees, including adopted children, are also eligible to register, stressing that any developments that threaten the continuity of UNRWA’s work and responsibilities will create great suffering and destabilize the whole region and undermine any real opportunity for peace and justice

Today, UNRWA remains a lifeline for Palestinian refugees living in 25 camps in occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, providing them with services, support and vital opportunities for employment, education, health, growth and development. It also works through programs and initiatives to ensure the rights are of Palestinians are protected and strengthened under international law

Ashrawi stressed that such pernicious schemes aimed at Palestinian refugees and UNRWA comes in the context of the US administration’s systematic campaign to destroy the requirements of peace and finalize the final status issues, including Jerusalem.

Further examples of this include the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, its refusal to recognize the limits of 1967 and undermine the two-state solution, its attempts to legitimize the settlements retroactively,omitting the term  “occupation” from official documents,and its anti-Palestinian actions in international organizations and bodies, including the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

The United States’ campaign against UNRWA is yet another devastating blow for the Palestinian people, international justice and international legitimacy.It targets more than 5.3 million refugees who continue to suffer from frequent displacement and deprivation.

At the end of her statement, the PLO official called for the formation of an international deterrent to confront unilateral American policies and the US administration’s contempt for international and humanitarian law.