Israeli PM backs Trump critique of Palestinian UN aid agency

Israeli PM backs Trump critique of Palestinian UN aid agency

Israel also objects to the agency's method of classifying refugees, with descendants also eligible to register.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, in response to comments, today, about UNRWA perpetuating the problem and USA funds for UNRWA going to UNHCR, went on record as saying that "UNRWA's mandate is set by the UN General Assembly whose members give wide and strong support to the Agency's humanitarian and human development mission, while paying tribute to our indispensible contribution to peace and security, working with some of the most marginalized communities in the Middle East".

Netanyahu said that UNRWA is focused on Palestinian refugees and that its funding should instead be shifted to the U.N.'s blanket refugee agency. He added that the organization "must disappear" because the Palestinians' right to return to Israel was a stance meant to eliminate the State of Israel. Now it is limited to those who reside in UNRWA's "areas of operation in the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip), Lebanon, Jordan and Syria", UNRWA's website says.

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Observers said UNRWA's support for Palestinian refugees actually helped Israel, by taking responsibility for the health, education and overall well-being of displaced Palestinians and their offspring.

A Palestinian man stands next to a cart carrying a flour sack distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip January 3, 2018.

The Israeli leader said he first raised the issue with Washington's United Nations envoy Nikki Haley in June.

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Israeli and global reports reported the United States' intention to freeze or delay its financial fund to UNRWA and stop aid to the Palestinians until they return to the negotiations table with Israel. Netanyahu's calls could have major repercussions for the 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and 174,422 now living in the country.

However, a senior United States administration official denied on Sunday that a decision has been made on cutting aid to UNRWA.

Many analysts, including Israelis, warn that closing the agency without having an effective replacement could lead to further poverty and perhaps violence.

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"In an extreme situation", Lerner added, "the administration of those refugees could fall on Israel's shoulders".

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