Aletho News


UN Renews Agency Helping Palestinian Refugees in Defiance of US

teleSUR | December 13, 2019

With 169 votes in favor, nine abstentions, and two votes against, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Friday extended the mandate for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until June 30, 2023.

“The General Assembly… expresses special commendation to the Agency for the essential role that it has played for almost seven decades since its establishment in providing vital services for the well-being, human development and protection of the Palestine refugees and the amelioration of their plight and for the stability of the region,” the UN resolution states.

Favorable reactions to the UNGA decision were immediate, especially among those who know from their own experience the consequences of the Israeli military occupation.

“We welcome the decision to renew the international mandate to UNRWA and we see it as another failure to hostile U.S. policies to the Palestinian rights,” the Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Established in 1949, the UN humanitarian agency provides housing, education, health, relief services, and microfinance assistance to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees who are currently living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi also praised the vote and said it was the UN’s responsibility to combat the U.S. and Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugees.

“All attempts at trying to limit the mandate of the UNRWA, defund it or attack it have failed, and we hope that the international community will continue to come to the rescue,” she said.

The U.S. and Israel, which have been leading a smear campaign accusing UNRWA of mismanagement and anti-Israeli incitement, voted against the resolution entitled “Assistance to Palestine Refugees.”

The nine abstentions came from Cameroon, Canada, Guatemala, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Vanuatu.

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel, Swiss officials discuss alternative to UNRWA

MEMO | September 5, 2019

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz announced yesterday that Israel and Switzerland will work on finding an alternative to UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Jerusalem Post reported.

These remarks, according to the Jerusalem Post, came following a meeting with the Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Bern.

During the meeting, Katz accused UNRWA officials in Gaza of cooperating with the Palestinian resistance in carrying out alleged attacks on Israel.

The Israeli newspaper claimed that Katz used quotes from previous remarks made by Cassis himself dating back to May this year when he claimed that the Palestine refugee agency is “part of the problem and not the solution”.

Cassis claimed then that the UNRWA fuelled “unrealistic” hope among Palestinians of a “right to return” to Israel from refugee camps in the Middle East.

Katz claimed yesterday that the existence of UNRWA sustains the status of Palestine refugees, prolongs the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and retains the demand of the Palestinian refugees to return home.

The Israeli foreign minister has recently directed his ministry to lay down a document proposing an alternative to the UNRWA which he discussed with his Swiss counterpart.

Switzerland suspended payments to UNRWA in July after reports about misconduct among its officials.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UNRWA’s existence might be contested, but it is essential for Palestine refugees

By Francesca Albanes and Terry Rempel | MEMO | September 4, 2019

These are dire times for UNRWA, the UN agency established to care for refugees displaced from Palestine at the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. As the Agency approaches its seventieth anniversary, with its mandate up for renewal by the UN General Assembly in the autumn, recent allegations of misconduct and abuse of power by senior UNRWA staff have brought renewed criticisms and a volley of polemical attacks against it. This has made the task of caring for 5.5 million refugees even more difficult and hijacked the space for informed and level-headed debate on both the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Allegations of misconduct and abuse of power made worse

Pending the results of a UN headquarters investigation into allegations of wrongdoing, several European donors have suspended their contributions to UNRWA. Reports that New Zealand may soon do the same have heightened concern among refugees and others about UNRWA’s financial stability, after the US – hitherto UNRWA’s largest donor – withdrew its funding last year. Similar investigations of staff of other UN organisations have not provoked a comparable donor response. As others have rightly noted, it is the refugees who will ultimately pay the price for the current quagmire.

Vigilant against the misuse of public funds and accountable to their domestic constituencies, donors are at the same time reasonably expected to withhold judgement until the UN Secretariat has completed its investigation. Lost in the political invective is the fact that it was UNRWA’s internal oversight mechanisms that identified and reported the allegations to the UN Secretary-General in the first place. UN regulations and rules do provide means to address the situation without the need to suspend funding.

Citing the recent allegations as more evidence that UNRWA is “irredeemably flawed”, longstanding critics have redoubled their attacks against the Agency. Unsubstantiated claims of inefficiency and charges of incitement and terrorism have been recycled for more than a decade. Never is it mentioned that UNRWA staff who are found to be in violation of UN rules and regulations are dismissed immediately.

These critics claim that UNRWA perpetuates the refugee “problem” and that getting rid of the Agency will somehow solve it. Dissolving the Agency, in this misguided view, is the easiest way to rid themselves of the refugee issue. Yet, the reality is rather that only when there is a just solution to the refugee question will UNRWA no longer be required.

The need for informed and level-headed debate

Relying almost entirely on voluntary donations, the Agency’s ability to meet the needs of the growing number of Palestine refugees is further strained by humanitarian emergencies in areas where it operates, downturns in the global economy and the seven-decade-long absence of durable solutions. In the spirit of international responsibility sharing, both the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, adopted by all 193 members of the General Assembly in 2016, and the UN Secretary-General, have called upon states to ensure that UNRWA has “sufficient, predictable and sustainable” funding pending a just and durable solution to the refugee question. While the Agency has undertaken measures to broaden its donor base, explore additional funding streams and establish new partnerships at both corporate and private levels, primary responsibility for funding UNRWA remains with UN member states.

A Palestinian man carries sacks of flour during a food aid distribution by UNRWA in Rafah, Gaza on 22 January 2017 [Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency]

A Palestinian man carries food aid given by UNRWA in Rafah, Gaza on 22 January 2017 [Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency]

The prospect for just and durable solutions for Palestinian refugees remains a chimera seventy years on. Israel’s adamant denial of their right of return has in turn rendered local integration in the Arab host countries and resettlement in third countries politically impracticable. The responsibility for a political solution of the refugee situation, as well as of the unresolved question of Palestinian self-determination, lies with states. There is little that UNRWA can do by itself to help the refugees out of the current impasse until political conditions allow refugees to make free and informed choices about their future. Meanwhile, UNRWA can neither be blamed for the lack of a political solution nor should be seen as a substitute for the lack of political will within the international community.

Like Palestine refugees cared for by UNRWA, about 16 million refugees worldwide (seventy-eight per cent of the global refugee population) find themselves in a “protracted refugee situation”. The similar absence of a political solution makes UNHCR’s mandate for them no less compelling. Whether UNRWA could do more within its existing mandate or whether this should explicitly include the promotion of durable solutions raises difficult and politically sensitive questions, requiring careful and objective examination.

Moving beyond uncertainty

When it considers UNRWA’s mandate in November, the General Assembly has an opportunity to better serve Palestine refugees by helping remove the uncertainty and air of perpetual crisis that surrounds them and the Agency. Discussions about how to achieve a just resolution to the refugees’ plight can no longer be postponed.

Meanwhile, UNRWA must be enabled to continue to care for the refugees, armed with a new institutional vision and strategy, one that fully involves refugees in discussions concerning their future. After decades of broken promises, it is time for the international community, through the United Nations, to translate declarations of support for the refugees into concrete action.

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

New Zealand suspends funding to Palestinians through UNRWA

MEMO | August 28, 2019

The government of New Zealand has withdrawn and suspended funding to the United Nations’ (UN) aid agency which provides support for Palestinians.

The country’s suspension of aid and financial contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is to be implemented until the release of a report by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services in October, which would detail allegations of misconduct, corruption, links to terror groups, and anti-Semitism that have been levelled against the agency.

A statement released by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “We expect UNRWA to cooperate fully with the investigation under way and to report back on the investigation’s findings and recommendations.” It added that “The Ministry will review the findings of the UN OIOS report once the investigation is complete and, after that point, will provide advice to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on future funding.”

The move by the island nation is in stark contradiction to its recent announcements that it will provide more aid to the agency and to Palestinians, such as in November last year when it vowed to increase its support to UNRWA and in May this year when it assured its commitment to back the organisation until at least 2021.

This shift in financial policy and the withdrawal of aid comes amid an ongoing campaign to deprive the UNRWA of funding and support from a variety of Western nations, most prominently the United States (US) when the Trump administration withdrew its funding for the agency last year. The most recent cases of the suspension of funds occurred last month when the Netherlands and Switzerland also froze financial support due to reports of alleged corruption within the agency.

The sharp reduction in funding has had a direct effect on the situation of Palestinians in refugee camps in particular. Since the US withdrawal from the agency, there have emerged widespread reports of worsening conditions in the camps scattered throughout Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, and the UN organisation continues to struggle financially amid the ongoing campaign against it, seeking urgent funds to maintain its work.

August 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

UNRWA rejects US call for dismantling UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Press TV – May 23, 2019

The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has rejected a US call to dismantle the agency, saying it cannot be blamed for the stalemate in the so-called peace efforts.

“I unreservedly reject the accompanying narrative that suggests that somehow UNRWA is to blame for the continuation of the refugee-hood of Palestine refugees, of their growing numbers and their growing needs,” UNRWA’s Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a press conference in the Gaza City on Thursday.

His comments were in response to a question about what Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, provocatively had said a day earlier, claiming that the agency had run its course and was no longer needed.

Addressing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Greenblatt claimed that UNRWA had been a “bandaid” and that it was time to hand over services assured by the refugee agency to those countries hosting the Palestinian Arab refugees.

“The UNRWA model has failed the Palestinian people,” he added.

UNRWA was originally set up in 1949 to take care of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war in the Middle East mainly through providing them with humanitarian aid.

It was initially established as a temporary agency, but it has continued to provide support for Palestinian refugees for the better part of six decades.

It currently supports more than five million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, providing them with healthcare, education and social services with funding from international donors.

Most are descendants of the roughly 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.

Last year, however, Washington cut its roughly $300 million annual donation to the UN agency, claiming that it was flawed as Trump’s administration pressed ahead with work on its so-called peace plan.

The US has accused UNRWA of expanding the definition of the refugee so that it includes all descendants of refugees regardless of whether they have taken citizenship in another country.

“The fact that UNRWA still exists today is an illustration of the failure of the parties and the international community to resolve the issue politically — and one cannot deflect the attention onto a humanitarian organization,” the UNRWA head further said on Thursday.

The UN agency will host a conference on June 25 at which international donors are expected to pledge financial support.

The developments come as the White House is set to hold an economic summit in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, on June 25 and 26 during which the first part of Trump’s “peace plan” which is spearheaded by his son-in-law Jared Kushner will be unveiled.

The Trump administration has said that its secret plan would require compromise by both sides.

The plan has been dismissed by Palestinian authorities even before being unveiled. Palestine’s Minister of Social Development Ahmed Majdalani also said early this week that Palestinians would not participate in the economic conference in Manama.

Relations between the Palestinian Authority and the US took an unprecedented dip in late 2017, when Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”

Since then, Palestinians have shown little interest in discussing a plan that they anticipate will fall far short of their core demands.

The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, is facing steep aid cuts. Since being shunned by Palestinians, the White House has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars to humanitarian organizations.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital, but Israel insists on maintaining the occupation of Palestinian territories.

Trump has time and again called his plan as “the deal of the century,” which is coincidentally the title of a 1983 comedy featuring a bunch of hapless arms dealers who compete to sell a weapon, called the Peacemaker, to a South American dictator.

May 23, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

UNRWA reduces deficit from $446m to $21m

MEMO | November 20, 2018

The Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Monday that its budget deficit for 2018 has been reduced from $446m to $21m. Pierre Krähenbühl made the announcement during a conference in Jordan, at which he thanked donor countries including Japan, EU members, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, as well as the agency’s Advisory Committee, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Republic of Turkey.

Krähenbühl told the conference that this year was “very difficult” due to the US government’s decision to stop its donations to UNRWA. Apart from a relatively small amount of core funding from the UN’s main budget, UNRWA relies entirely on voluntary donations from UN member states.

According to the Jordanian newspaper Al-Sabeel, the Commissioner General noted that the budget deficit caused much “tension and suffering” for Palestinian refugees. An end to American support, he pointed out, had “repercussions” for the essential basic services provided by UNRWA to the refugees.

He called for those countries which have pledged support for the agency to “turn their pledges into funds in UNRWA’s bank accounts” in order to cover the remaining deficit.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

In first, US endorses Israeli occupation of Golan, votes against 9 anti-Israel resolutions

Press TV – November 16, 2018

The US has, for the first time, endorsed the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights by voting against an annual UN resolution that condemned the occupation and was unanimously approved along with several other resolutions against Tel Aviv.

The resolution titled “The occupied Syrian Golan,” adopted on Friday with 151 votes in favor, two against (Israel and the US), and 14 abstentions, condemns Israel for “repressive measures” against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights.

The resolution, which was adopted during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), expresses deep concern that the Syrian Golan, occupied since 1967, has been under continued Israeli military occupation.

The non-binding annual resolution takes issue with the “illegality of the decision” taken by Israel “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan,” which is illegal under international law.

The US’ vote against the annual resolution signaled a dramatic shift in Washington’s policy toward the territory, as it used to abstain in previous cases. The administration of Donald Trump had announced its changed policy ahead of the vote.

“If this resolution ever made sense, it surely does not today. The resolution is plainly biased against Israel,” outgoing US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement.

During the debate, Syrian envoy Bashar al-Jafari vowed that Damascus would recapture the heights by peace or by war.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and has continued to occupy two-thirds of the strategically-important territory ever since, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

The Tel Aviv regime has built dozens of illegal settlements in the area since its occupation and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government

Tel Aviv has also been pressing the US administration under Israel-friendly President Trump to recognize its claim to sovereignty over the occupied territory in defiance of international law.

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

Eight other resolutions against Israel

The resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan was one of the nine separate resolutions which condemned the Israeli regime.

Through these resolutions, the UN reinforced the mandate of its Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and renewed the mandate of its “special committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.”

Other resolutions included “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues”, “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities”, “Applicability of the Geneva Convention… to the Occupied Palestinian Territory…”, and “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East”.

The member states also unanimously voted for a resolution titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees”.

Apart from the US, which voted against all the nine resolutions, only a few member states – including Canada and Australia – cast nay votes. The majority of member states voted for the resolutions.

View the resolutions and voting results here:
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) November 16, 2018

November 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UNRWA concerned about Israel plan to stop its work in Jerusalem

MEMO – October 6, 2018

The UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has expressed its concern about a statement made by Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, that he would stop the organisation’s operations in the occupied city.

UNRWA’s statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO, said: “UNRWA conducts humanitarian operations in conformity with the UN Charter, bilateral and multilateral agreements that continue to be in force, [as well as] relevant General Assembly resolutions”.

The statement added: “The Agency is specifically mandated by the UN General Assembly to deliver protection and assistance to Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, pending a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

It continued: “UNRWA has continuously maintained operations in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem since 1967, with the cooperation and on the basis of a formal agreement with the State of Israel, which remains in force”.

“The Agency is recognized for the important work it carries out in education, health-care, relief and social services in East Jerusalem. It is determined to continue carrying out these services”.

Yesterday Barkat, Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, accused UNRWA of “operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel,” before confirming that UNRWA schools in the occupied city will be closed by the end of the current school year. As well as schools, clinics, sports centres and other services will also be transferred to the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality.

UNRWA said of Barkat’s statement: “Such messaging challenges the core principles of impartial and independent humanitarian action and does not reflect the robust and structured dialogue and interaction that UNRWA and the State of Israel have traditionally maintained.”

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Real Reasons behind Washington’s War on UNRWA

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | September 27, 2018

The US government’s decision to slash funds provided to the United Nations agency that cares for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is part of a new American-Israeli strategy aimed at redefining the rules of the game altogether.

As a result, UNRWA is experiencing its worst financial crisis. The gap in its budget is estimated at around $217 million, and is rapidly increasing. Aside from future catastrophic events that would result in discontinuing services and urgent humanitarian aid to five million refugees registered with UNRWA, the impact of the US callous decision is already reverberating in many refugee camps across the region. Currently, UNRWA has downgraded many of its services: laying off many teachers, reducing staff and working hours at various clinics.

Nearly 40 percent of all Palestinian refugees live in Jordan, a country that is already overwhelmed by a million Syrian refugees who sought shelter there because of the grinding and deadly war in their own country.

Aware of Jordan’s vulnerability, American emissaries attempted to barter with the country to heed the US demand of revoking the status of the two million Palestinian refugees. Instead of funding UNRWA, Washington offered to re-channel the funds directly to the Jordanian government. Thus, the US hopes that the Palestinian refugee status would no longer be applicable. Unsurprisingly, Jordan refused the American offer.

News of this failed barter resurfaced last August. It was reported that US President Donald Trump’s special envoy, Jared Kushner, tried to sway the Jordanian government during his visit to Amman in June.

Washington and Israel are seeking to simply remove the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees, as enshrined in international law, from the political agenda altogether.

Coupled with Washington’s strategy to “remove Jerusalem from the table,” the American strategy is neither random nor impulsive.

“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote to the US Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, in an email last January. The email, among others, was later leaked to Foreign Policy magazine. “This (agency) perpetuates a status quo,” he also wrote, referring to UNRWA as “corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

This notion that UNRWA sustains the status quo – meaning the political rights of Palestinians refugees – is the main reason behind the American war on the Organization, a fact that is confirmed through statements made by top Israeli officials, too.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, echoed the American sentiment. UNRWA “has proven itself an impediment to resolving the conflict by keeping the Palestinians in perpetual refugee status,” he said.

Certainly, the US cutting of funds to UNRWA coincides with the defunding of all programs that provide any kind of aid to the Palestinian people. But the targeting of UNRWA is mostly concerned with the status of Palestinian refugees, a status that has irked Tel Aviv for 70 years.

Why does Israel want to place Palestinian refugees in a status-less category?

The refugee status is already a precarious one. To be a Palestinian refugee means living perpetually in limbo – unable to reclaim what has been lost, and unable to fashion an alternative future and a life of freedom and dignity.

How are Palestinians to reconstruct their identity that has been shattered by decades of exile, when Israel has constantly hinged its own existence as a ‘Jewish state’ on opposing the return and repatriation of Palestinian refugees? Per Israel’s logic, the mere Palestinian demand for the implementation of the internationally-sanctioned Right of Return is equivalent to a call for “genocide”. According to that same faulty logic, the fact that the Palestinian people live and multiply is a “demographic threat” to Israel.

Much can be said about the circumstances behind the creation of UNRWA by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1949 – its operations, efficiency and the effectiveness of its work. But for most Palestinians, UNRWA is not a relief organization, per se; being registered as a refugee with UNRWA provides Palestinians with a temporary identity, the same identity that allowed four generations of refugees to navigate decades of exile.

UNRWA’s stamp of “refugee” on every certificate that millions of Palestinians possess – birth, death and everything else in between – has served as a compass, pointing back to the places those refugees come from – not the refugee camps scattered in Palestine and across the region, but the 600 towns and villages that were destroyed during the Zionist assault on Palestine.

These villages may have been erased, as a whole new country was established upon their ruins, but the Palestinian refugee remained – subsisted, resisted and plotted her return home. The UNRWA refugee status is the international recognition of this inalienable right.

Therefore, the current US-Israeli war does not target UNRWA as a UN body, but as an organization that allows millions of Palestinians to maintain their identity as refugees with non-negotiable rights until their return to their ancestral homeland. Nearly 70 years after its founding, UNRWA remains essential and irreplaceable.

The founders of Israel envisioned a future where Palestinian refugees would eventually disappear into the larger population of the Middle East. Seventy years on, the Israelis still entertain that same illusion.

Now, with the help of the Trump administration, they are orchestrating yet more sinister campaigns to make Palestinian refugees vanish, wished away through the destruction of UNRWA and the redefining of the refugee status of millions of Palestinians.

The fate of Palestinian refugees seems to be of no relevance to Trump, Kushner and other US officials. The Americans are now hoping that their strategy will finally bring Palestinians to their knees so that they will ultimately submit to the Israeli government’s dictates.

The latest US-Israeli folly will prove futile. Successive US administrations have done everything in their power to support Israel and to punish the supposedly intransigent Palestinians. The Right of Return, however, remained the driving force behind Palestinian resistance, as the Gaza Great March of Return, ongoing since March, continues to demonstrate.

The truth is that all the money in Washington’s coffers will not reverse what is now a deeply embedded belief in the hearts and minds of millions of refugees throughout Palestine, the Middle East and the world.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. He is athor of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle and his latest My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. He can be reached at

September 27, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Aoun: UNRWA funding cut to settle refugees in Lebanon

MEMO | September 10, 2018

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Monday that the US decision to cut funding for the UN refugee agency UNRWA was the beginning to settle Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Speaking to reporters during his flight from Lebanon to France, Aoun said he will discuss the UNRWA issue during his visit to the European Parliament.

“This issue could form the start for settling (refugees in Lebanon), which is banned by the Lebanese Constitution and rejected by the Lebanese people,” he said.

Aoun arrived in Strasbourg on Monday for a three-day visit upon an invitation by Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament.

During the visit, Aoun will discuss relations between Lebanon and the EU as well as a host of regional and international issues.

Last month, the US State Department said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the UNRWA.

The US had been UNRWA’s largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly a quarter of the agency’s overall budget.

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

UNRWA head: ‘One cannot simply wish away 5m people’

MEMO | August 23, 2018

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has spoken out against efforts underway to see the organisation dismantled, stating: “One cannot simply wish away five million people”.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), made the remarks in an interview with Foreign Policy.

Krahenbuhl also spoke to the impact US funding cuts have already had on URNWA’s operations, noting that in the Gaza Strip, the agency “had to announce cuts to some of our emergency services like community mental health, job creation” and “there was even a risk for our food distribution”.

According to the Swiss diplomat, the protests in response to job cuts led to UNRWA losing control of its compound in Gaza for “about 20 days”.

Asked by Foreign Policy about the claim made by Israel and the Trump administration that “Palestinians are the only people in the world who are allowed to pass their refugee status down through generations,” Krahenbuhl said this was “clearly a misrepresentation”.

“UNRWA, in ways that are no different from the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], considers children and descendants of refugees as refugees,” he said, before citing Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Burundi and Sudan as cases of protracted refugee situations where “the children and grandchildren of the original refugee[s]” are also considered refugees.

“It rests on the notion that family unity, the principle of family unity, is keeping families united and together as one of the key parameters of managing refugee crises,” he added.

Pressed as to what life would be like for refugees were UNRWA to be dismantled – a key demand of many Israeli and US politicians – Krahenbuhl replied:

“If UNRWA didn’t exist tomorrow, and even if UNHCR didn’t exist, the world would still have to tackle the reality of protracted, long-term refugee situations that are impacting the well-being of people, but also the security and stability of states in many parts of the world. One cannot simply wish away five million people”.

Read also:

Politicising UNRWA

The plan to end UNRWA will not take away Palestinians’ right of return

August 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reports Reveal Kushner Plan to Dismantle UNRWA

Palestine Chronicle | August 5, 2018

The Palestinian leadership have slammed a reported plan by the US President’s special adviser Jared Kushner to dismantle the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, saying it’s a plot to take a key issue off any future negotiations.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has described the newly-surfaced plan, allegedly outlined by Kushner in internal correspondence in January, as a “continuation of the subversive plots to eliminate the Palestinian problem.”

By insisting on unraveling the decades-old United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Washington seeks to strike the issue of the Palestinians displaced during the Arab-Israeli war off the agenda of any future negotiations, which is unacceptable, Abbas said on Saturday.

On Friday, Foreign Policy magazine revealed that Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law in charge of mediating a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, has been spearheading an effort to get rid of UNRWA.

In an email to the US President’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and several other officials, dated January 11, Kushner reportedly wrote that “it is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.”

Advocating for the dissolution of the organization that helps provide healthcare and education to tens of thousands of Palestinians, Kushner wrote that the US cannot let the situation remain stable and has to “strategically risk breaking things” to achieve its wide-reaching goals.

In line with his goal to render UNRWA obsolete, Kushner allegedly sought to put pressure on Jordan so it will no longer recognize some 2 million Palestinian refugees as such during a leg of his Middle Eastern tour in June.

Kushner reportedly tried to persuade the Jordanian government to resettle the Palestinians within its borders without UNRWA being involved, according to a Palestinian official cited by FP.

Head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Saeb Erekat reported on Kushner’s attempt to buy the Arab countries’ support in his quest to eliminate the UN agency back in June.

“They (the Trump administration) approached the host countries of the Palestinian refugees to ask how much UNRWA used to spend there and offered to give it directly to them,” Erekat said, claiming that Jordan said “no” to the generous offer.

UNRWA, which was founded in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, defines refugees as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period June 1, 1946 to May 15 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” In addition to those originally displaced from their homes, it also views their descendants as applicable for refugee status.

The latter principle, which has seen the number of registered Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza exceed five million, has long been a bone of contention between the agency and the Israeli authorities, who regard their return as a threat to the Jewish character of the nation-state.

UNRWA has had to scale back its assistance to Palestinian refugees in Gaza after the US, which was the agency’s biggest donor, slashed its contribution by $250 million.

The move left the agency cash-strapped and sparked an urgent call for donors, backed by the UN officials including Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “We must do everything possible to ensure that food continues to arrive, that schools remain open and that people do not lose hope,” he told a fundraising conference in New York in June.

Trump has put Kushner in charge of devising a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, that has been in the works for 18 months and which is rumored to include points that are unacceptable to Ramallah.

August 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment