Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described on Sunday the US decision to cut its donation to the UN agency which looks after Palestinian refugees as a “very important thing,” Israeli media have reported.
“The US has done a very important thing by halting the financing for the refugee perpetuation agency known as UNRWA,” Israeli website YNet News quoted him as saying. “It is finally beginning to resolve the problem.”
Netanyahu suggested that the funds must be taken and used to genuinely help rehabilitate the refugees, the true number of which is much smaller than the number reported by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). “This is a welcome and important change and we support it.”
Last week, Foreign Policy magazine published an internal email sent by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serves as a Middle East advisor, calling for a “sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.” According to the 11 January email, “This [UNRWA] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
In a statement on its website, UNRWA expressed deep regret and disappointment at the US announcement that it will no longer provide funding to the Agency after decades of staunch political and financial support. “This decision is all the more surprising given that UNRWA and the United States renewed a funding agreement in December 2017 which had acknowledged the successful, dedicated and professional management of the Agency.”
UNRWA rejected in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centres, and emergency assistance programmes are ‘irredeemably flawed’, as the US claims. “These very programmes have a proven track record in creating one of the most successful human development processes and results in the Middle East. The international state community, our donors and host countries have consistently praised UNRWA for its achievements and standards. The World Bank described our activities as a ‘global public good’ and recognised us for running one of the most effective school systems in the region, in which students regularly outperform their peers in public schools.”