Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are trying to shut down the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) as the agency continues to face an unprecedented year-on-year financial crisis, Le Monde reported.
UNRWA was created in 1949 to provide assistance and protection for the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes prior to the creation of the state of Israel.
The organisation currently offers its services to about 5.3 million Palestinians refugees in the occupied territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
In Gaza, refugees have been subjected to the effects of Israel’s crippling siege for 13 years, while in Syria, 91 per cent of Palestinian refugee households are said to be living in absolute poverty as a result of the ongoing civil war.
In Lebanon, over 89 per cent of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance.
According to the French report, this process has been underway since Israel and the UAE announced that relations between the two countries would be normalised in August.
It explained Abu Dhabi would be rallying to a long-standing demand from Israel, which “insists that the agency is obstructing peace by nurturing refugees in the dream of returning to the lands from which their parents were driven in 1948.”
This is despite the UAE having been a major funder of UNRWA in 2018 and 2019, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to offset US President Donald Trump’s halting of funds to the agency in 2018, which brought it to the verge of bankruptcy.