Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet meeting yesterday that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) "must disappear".
According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu made the remarks at the start of the weekly gathering, addressing recent reports that the US intends to stop funding the agency.
"I fully agree with President Trump's strong criticism of UNRWA," Netanyahu declared.
"UNRWA is an organisation that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees," he continued. "It also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called 'right of return' with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and therefore UNRWA must disappear."
The Israeli premier told his colleagues he had suggested "that the funds for UNRWA should be gradually transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with clear criteria for supporting real refugees, rather than fictitious refugees, which is what is happening today under UNRWA."
Read: Israel teams with US officials to dissolve UNRWA
Meanwhile, UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness issued a statement clarifying that the agency'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".
The statement added:
What perpetuates the refugee crisis is the failure of the parties to deal with the issue. This needs to be resolved by the parties to the conflict in the context of peace talks, based on UN resolutions and international law, and requires the active engagement by the international community.
"UNRWA is mandated by the General Assembly to continue with its services until a just and lasting solution is found for the Palestine refugees."