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Former Israeli ambassador oversees new attack on UNRWA mandate

Image of former Israeli envoy Ron Prosor, speaking at the UN General Assembly [Public1london/Wikipedia]

Former Israeli envoy Ron Prosor is directing a fresh attack on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as Israel continues efforts to undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Prosor, who served as Israeli ambassador to the UK and to the United Nations, is now head of the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

As reported by Yedioth Ahronoth, the Abba Eban Institute has published a "study" whose headline claim is that the "UN spends 4 times more money per Palestinian refugee than per any other refugee". This is based on a comparison of the average amount per refugee spent by UNRWA versus the equivalent figure for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The study is intended, in the words of the Israeli newspaper, "to reinforce Israel's traditional argument against the split [between the UNHCR and UNRWA]". According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the Abba Eban Institute has "formulated a plan of action for structural changes that will improve the treatment of refugees around the world by merging UNRWA into the UNHCR".

Prosor told the paper: "Uniting the resources of the two agencies will enable more quality and efficient assistance, and contribute to a solution for what that the UN itself has defined as the most serious refugee crisis in history".

Read: Sensing an opportunity, Israel targets UNRWA and the Palestinian right of return

Prosor also attacked UNRWA as an obstacle to "Israeli-Palestinian understanding", on the basis that it "is working to empower the Palestinian refugee problem instead of trying to solve it". The paper added that Prosor "intends to present his plan to UN bodies soon and work to promote it".

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dismantling of UNRWA, part of what analysts have called a renewed offensive against the agency and Palestinian refugees' rights.

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