Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged that the UN agency entrusted with providing support to Palestinian “refugees” be closed down.
Netanyahu issued the call following the exposure of a Hamas terror tunnel running beneath two schools in Gaza run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency).
Following discovery of the tunnel, Israel on Friday submitted a letter of protest to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that when he met last week with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, he told her the time has come for the UN to reconsider UNRWA’s operations and existence.
“Since World War Two, there have been – and continue to be today – millions of refugees. And these millions have the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), while most of the Palestinian refugees are settled and have a separate commission. This is UNRWA; it has its own institutions and considerable incitement against Israel,” Netanyahu explained.
“I regret that UNRWA, to a large degree, by its very existence, perpetuates – and does not solve – the Palestinian refugee problem. Therefore, the time has come to disband UNRWA and integrate it into the UNHCR,” he demanded.
UNRWA was founded in 1950 to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees who fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, many at the urging of Arab governments or propelled by false rumors of Jewish violence.
With the exception of Jordan, the Arab countries that accepted them have refused to provide citizenship; rather, they remain confined to refugee camps. Palestinian citizens of Jordan are also denied many privileges, including access to jobs in the government and military.
The number of Palestinian refugees has been vastly inflated by the fact that refugee status is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to every other refugee population in the world.
Using Schoolchildren as Human Shields
UNRWA was accused of working with Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.
Netanyahu said Hamas is “using schoolchildren as human shields and this is the enemy that we have been fighting against for many years, an enemy that is committing a twofold war crime. On the one hand, it first attacks innocent civilians and then hides behind children.”
The UN likewise condemned Hamas. “It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way,” the world body said, adding that it has “robustly intervened and protested to Hamas.”
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News