The US president’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reported to have tried to pressure Jordan to strip more than two million Palestinians of refugee status in a move that aims to end the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Foreign Policy magazine reported.
According to US and Palestinian officials, the Trump administration is working to end UNRWA’s work in order to “remove the refugee issue from any possible negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.
The magazine said it had obtained emails exchanged between Kushner with US administration officials in which he clearly called on “the need to stop UNRWA work”.
“This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” Kushner said in one email.
“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are… Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there,” he added.
The magazine also quoted an email sent by Victoria Coates, a senior advisor to US Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, to the White House’s national security staff in which she said that the White House was “mulling a way to eliminate the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees”.
“UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019,” Coates said in her email.
According to the magazine, “by trying to unwind UNRWA, the Trump administration appears ready to reset the terms of the Palestinian refugee issue in Israel’s favour — as it did on another key issue in December, when Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
According to UNRWA the number of Palestinian refugees including their descents around the world has reached 5.2 million. Last week it was revealed that the US was working to reduce this number to just 40,000 made up of those who were forced out of their homes as a result of the Nakba and subsequent creation of the state of Israel, and not including their descendants.