The UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has expressed its concern about a statement made by Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, that he would stop the organisation’s operations in the occupied city.
UNRWA’s statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO, said: “UNRWA conducts humanitarian operations in conformity with the UN Charter, bilateral and multilateral agreements that continue to be in force, [as well as] relevant General Assembly resolutions”.
The statement added: “The Agency is specifically mandated by the UN General Assembly to deliver protection and assistance to Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, pending a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”
It continued: “UNRWA has continuously maintained operations in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem since 1967, with the cooperation and on the basis of a formal agreement with the State of Israel, which remains in force”.
“The Agency is recognized for the important work it carries out in education, health-care, relief and social services in East Jerusalem. It is determined to continue carrying out these services”.
Yesterday Barkat, Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, accused UNRWA of “operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel,” before confirming that UNRWA schools in the occupied city will be closed by the end of the current school year. As well as schools, clinics, sports centres and other services will also be transferred to the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality.
UNRWA said of Barkat’s statement: “Such messaging challenges the core principles of impartial and independent humanitarian action and does not reflect the robust and structured dialogue and interaction that UNRWA and the State of Israel have traditionally maintained.”