Israeli occupation authorities are planning to close down UN-run Palestinian schools in occupied Jerusalem and replace them with new ones that follow the Israeli education curriculum.
The so-called Jerusalem Municipal Council approved earlier this week the plan, which will target schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Shuafat in East Jerusalem as well as Anata town, located four kilometers (2.4 miles) northeast of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The project will cost 7.1 million Israeli shekels ($2,055,617) and has been supported by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion as part of attempts to reduce UNRWA’s influence in the occupied city.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Expatriates and Foreign Affairs has slammed the Israeli decision to use alternatives to UNRWA-run Palestinian schools in Jerusalem.
The ministry said in a statement that the plan falls within the Israel’s war on the Palestinian right of return.
The statement noted that the Israeli measure is a “new step towards imposing the Israeli syllabus on Palestinians, and is part of the Israeli plans to Judaize the Palestinian city.”
On December 13 last year, the UN’s Fourth Committee approved extending the mandate of UNRWA until June 30, 2023, with 169 votes in favor and nine abstentions, while the United States and Israel voted against.
UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide education, health, and relief services as well as housing and microfinance assistance to some 5.5 million registered refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
The agency has faced budgetary difficulties since last year after the United States — its biggest donor — under the administration of President Donald Trump took an increasingly hard-line stance toward Palestine and halted its annual aid of $360 million to the organization.
Israel has welcomed the controversial move by the United States to cut funding to the UN agency.