Close UN Palestinian refugee agency: Netanyahu

Close UN Palestinian refugee agency: Netanyahu

The Trump administration and Israel have threatened to close down a United Nations agency dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees amid rumors that funding to the agency had already been cut. In February, UN Watch released an 130-page report exposing 40 UNRWA school employees in Gaza and elsewhere who engaged in incitement to terror against Israelis and expressed "anti-Semitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler".

"UNRWA is an organisation that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and the narrative of the right-of-return, as it were, in order to eliminate the State of Israel", the Israeli leader said, adding the development agency needed "to pass from the world".

The U.S. gives a little more than $300 million a year to the agency, accounting for its primary source of funding.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, in response to comments, today, about UNRWA perpetuating the problem and United States 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 at his Sunday weekly Cabinet meeting also reiterated support for Trump's threat to cut aid to Palestinians. The US is the largest single donor to UNRWA with over $350 million in annual aid. 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.

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Netanyahu made nearly identical comments about dismantling UNRWA in June - a message he said at the time he had conveyed to the US ambassador to the United Nations.

Israel is deeply critical of UNRWA, charging that the organization harbors terrorists and perpetuates the Palestinian "refugee" problem indefinitely, thus blocking a potential resolution to the conflict.

Trump angered the Palestinians last week when he threatened in a pair of tweets to cut funding to the United Nations agency that handles Palestinian refugees if the Palestinian Authority doesn't talk peace with Israel.

He continued, "Israel is sending two messages. -Israeli campaign" targeting UNRWA.

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