The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said, on Monday, that its mandate comes only from the United Nations General Assembly, which created it in 1950 following the Palestinians’ dispersion from their homeland, with Israel’s creation by a UN resolution in 1947.

UNRWA’s response came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for cutting aid to UNRWA until it ceases to exist.

“UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees. It also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return’ with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and therefore UNRWA must disappear,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

UNRWA spokesman Sami Mushasha said, in a statement, according to WAFA, that “what perpetuates the problem of Palestinian refugees is failure of the parties to deal with this issue, which should be resolved by the parties to conflict through peace negotiations based on UN resolutions and international law as well as active involvement from the international community.”

The UN called, in its General Assembly resolution 194, passed on December 11,1948, for the return or compensation of more than 700,000 Palestinians who were forced out of their homes and land by armed Israeli paramilitary groups.

Mushasha said that UNRWA, which began operations on 1 May, 1950, funded by contributions from UN member states, and whose services encompass education, health care, social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, “has a mandate to continue with its mission until there is a just and lasting solution to the Palestine refugees issue.”

Netanyahu’s statement came after US President Donald Trump and his UN ambassador, Nikky Haley, had also threatened to cut financial aid to the Palestinians, including to UNRWA, if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiation table with Israel. The US is the largest single donor to UNRWA, with over $350 million in annual official aid.

However, a senior US administration official denied, on Sunday, that a decision has been made on cutting aid to UNRWA.

“There is no existing schedule that obligates the United States to provide specific amounts of aid to UNWRA on specific dates,” said the official in a statement from Washington. “The decisions of when to provide aid in the fiscal year, and in what allocations, lie with the Secretary of State. At this time no such decisions have been made.”

UNRWA, which is suffering from shortage in budget, is appealing for $400 million in aid to meet humanitarian demands by Palestinian refugees, whose number has reached over 5 million since 1948, particularly in conflict areas such as Gaza and Syria.

(photo: Al Ray archive image)

01/07/18 Netanyahu Supports “Gradual Cutback” of UNRWA Funding by US