On behalf of the PLO Executive Committee, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi strongly condemned the so-called ‘Mayor’ of Jerusalem Nir Barkat’s pledge to expel UNRWA from occupied Jerusalem, close down all its institutions, including the schools, and to shut down its operations and programs.
“Barkat’s pledge to expel UNRWA from occupied Jerusalem and shut down its services and programs is arrogant and outrageous,” Ashrawi said. “Israel is responsible for creating the Palestinian refugee problem, and it has no right to alter the mandate, duties and responsibilities of UNRWA as defined by the United Nations,” she continued.
Established by UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of December 8, 1949, UNRWA provides essential services, assistance and opportunities for work, growth and development to 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. It is also a safeguard for the Palestinian refugees’ legal and political rights.
UNRWA was set up by the international community (including the United States) as a step towards the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) which the Israeli government then had pledged to fulfill but reneged on its commitment.
“Such a declaration is a direct affront to the international community and its laws and institutions, as well as a deliberate targeting of the Palestinian refugees and their rights,” she said.
“Clearly, Barkat’s comments have been emboldened by the latest American decision to defund UNRWA and redefine the status of Palestinian refugees. These moves are part of the US administration’s plan to dismantle all permanent status issues at the core of which are occupied Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees and the right of return, the two-state solution, 1967 borders, and the legality of the settlements, thereby destroying the chances of peace,” she added.
Ashrawi also said that regardless of the American administration’s “irresponsible and illegal latest moves, neither the United States nor Israel (let alone the so-called ‘Mayor’ of Jerusalem) can impose their will on the international community or target its institutions.”
“It is up to governments worldwide and all members of the international community to rise to the challenge and intervene immediately to ensure that such threats are not carried out and to maintain the integrity of the global legal and political system,” she concluded.