Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has expressed support for a gradual cutback of US funding to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees, according to Israeli reports.

Haaretz said, according to the PNN, that Netanyahu’s bureau said, over the weekend, that the prime minister “supports a critical approach by President Trump and believes that practical steps must be taken to change the situation in which UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it.”

Last week, US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley said that President Donald Trump wants to pull the plug on funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) if Palestinians do not return to negotiations with Israel.

The US, which is the largest financial contributor to UNRWA, previously announced it was planning to cut  $285 million from funds it provides to the United Nations 2018-2019 budget, ahead of the UN General Assembly’s vote against his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, in response to comments, today, about UNRWA perpetuating the problem and US funds for UNRWA going to UNHCR, went on record as saying that  “UNRWA’s mandate is set by the UN General Assembly whose members give wide and strong support to the Agency’s humanitarian and human development mission, while paying tribute to our indispensible contribution to peace and security, working with some of the most marginalized communities in the Middle East.

“What perpetuates the refugee crisis is the failure of the parties to deal with the issue. This needs to be resolved by the parties to the conflict in the context of peace talks, based on UN resolutions and international law, and requires the active engagement by the international community.

“UNRWA is mandated by the General Assembly to continue with its services until a just and lasting solution is found for the Palestine refugees.”