Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, yesterday announced that he plans to remove the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees from occupied East Jerusalem, accusing it of “operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel”.
Following the announcement, the Jerusalem Municipality confirmed that UN schools, which serve about 1,800 students, would be closed by the end of the current school year.
The municipality did not provide a specific time schedule for the closures.
Barkat said in a statement that schools, clinics, and sports centres, among other services operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in East Jerusalem, will be transferred to the Israeli occupation authorities.
He claimed that bodies were “illegal” and “operate without an Israeli licence”.
The decision, he added, was triggered by the US’ announcement that it had ended all funding to the UN body.
He said that “The US decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with services of the Jerusalem Municipality. We are putting an end to the lie of the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty.”
Barkat added that the decision was in coordination with the Israeli government.