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Report: US to propose to dismantle UNRWA during Bahrain conference

May 28, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Palestinian women shout slogans during a protest against US aid cuts to UNRWA outside the UN office in Gaza Strip on 11 February 2018 [SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images]

The United States plans to propose to dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) during the “Peace to Prosperity” conference scheduled to take place in Bahrain next month.

Israel Hayom newspaper reported that the United States will seek to withdraw the mandate Israel had granted to UNRWA to work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the conference, adding that Israel is reluctant to see this come in to affect.

According to the paper, the United States will, in turn, offer to renovate the Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, build them as permanent cities, and “that UNRWA’s education and food distribution activities be replaced by development programs implemented by international NGOs but run by the Palestinian Authority”.

The newspaper pointed out that US envoy to the region, Jason Greenblatt, has recently proposed similar plans, saying that replacing UNRWA and terminating its work will be central to the deal, pointing out that UNRWA only perpetuates the conflict.

READ: US calls to dissolve UNRWA, hand responsibilities to host countries

The US announced in a joint statement with Bahrain earlier this month that Manama will host an economic workshop. The White House said that the workshop was aiming to “encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region,” describing it “the first phase of the US sponsored ‘deal of the century’ plan.”

American officials recently told Reuters that the economic workshop would bring together government officials and business leaders in an effort “to jump-start the economic portion of the peace initiative, which is also expected to include proposals for resolving thorny political issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Last year, the US State Department said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the UNRWA.

READ: The health and dignity of Palestine refugees remain at risk, says UNRWA 

The US had been UNRWA’s largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly a quarter of the agency’s overall budget.

This came a month after reports emerged of a secret American report stated that there are only 40,000 Palestinian refugees, noting they are the Palestinians who left their home land in 1948 and remain alive today and not their descendants.

US President Donald Trump’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).

UNRWA's lifeline is decreasing due to the cuts made by the Trump administration [AlArabi21News/Twitter]

UNRWA’s lifeline is decreasing due to the cuts made by the Trump administration – Cartoon [AlArabi21News/Twitter]