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Israel calls for alternative for UNRWA to avoid escalation in Gaza

Palestinians in Gaza protest against US cuts to UNRWA on 13 February, 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinians in Gaza protest against US cuts to UNRWA on 13 February, 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israeli army officials have recommended the establishment of an alternative for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip to avoid any escalation in unrest, Safa news agency reported yesterday.

The news site reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz saying the Israeli army’s recommendation should be considered because an escalation would be inevitable if UNRWA’s operations in Gaza were halted.

Haaretz also said that a conference to discuss the consequences of halting UNRWA’s funding is to be held in New York at the end of September.

Safa said that Israel had asked the US to stop funding UNRWA’s activities in the occupied West Bank, but in Gaza Israel is afraid that such a move would leave a vacuum that would undermine the regional security.

Read: The debate on UNRWA takes focus away from the realities of Palestinian refugees

Two weeks ago the US announced it would stop all funding to UNRWA, the UN body responsible for education, healthcare and shelter for some 5.4 million registered Palestinian refugees. The news was broken by Foreign Policy magazine, which disclosed that “the decision was made at a meeting earlier [in August] between President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.” Formerly the US had provided some $350 million a year to UNRWA, accounting for more than a quarter of the agency’s $1.2 billion annual budget.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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