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UNRWA downplays Israel's rhetoric, says its mandate comes from UN General Assembly

Monday January 8, 2018 7:11 PM, UNA-OIC


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Monday that its mandate comes only from the UN General Assembly, which created it in1950 following the Palestinians' dispersion from their homeland with Israel’s creation by a UN resolution in 1947, WAFA reported.

UNRWA’s response came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agency “perpetuates the narrative of the 'right of return’ with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel” and called for cutting aid to UNRWA until it ceases to exist.

UNRWA spokesman Sami Mushasha said in response to Netanyahu's statement that “what perpetuates the problem of Palestinian refugees is failure of the parties to deal with this issue, which should be resolved by the parties to conflict through peace negotiations based on UN resolutions and international law as well as active involvement from the international community.”

He added that UNRWA, which began operations on 1 May 1950, was funded by contributions from UN member states and whose services encompass education, healthcare, social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, and it has a mandate to continue with its mission until there is a just and lasting solution to the Palestine refugees issue.

Netanyahu’s statement came after US President Donald Trump and his UN Ambassador Nikky Haley had also threatened to cut financial aid to the Palestinians, including to UNRWA, if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiation table with Israel.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian government called on the United Nations General Assembly and international community to continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help it continue with the mission for which it was created for until the Palestinian refugees are able to return to their homes they were forced out from in 1948.

Government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud condemned calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for dismantling UNRWA as a way to end the Palestinian refugee issue. Netanyahu said on Sunday that UNRWA’s existence “perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees,” claiming that the Palestinian right of return aims at eliminating Israel.

Al-Mahmoud expressed surprise at Netanyahu’s claim that the Palestinian right of return aims at eliminating Israel, describing it as incitement.

“No one can imagine that Netanyahu’s incitement against UNRWA could reach such a level,” he said, adding that “Netanyahu would not have said this if it wasn’t for the recent American statements regarding Washington’s intention to end its contribution to UNRWA.”

He described the US position toward the UN agency as “blackmail” as well as “to pressure the Palestinian leadership to compromise on the national constants, which is condemned and rejected by the Palestinians.”


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