Washington, USA: President Donald Trump’s administration believes the United Nations agency tasked with supporting Palestinian refugees “has perpetuated and exacerbated the refugee crisis, “a senior Trump administration official said.
Much of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan remains a closely-guarded secret, but emails newly leaked to Foreign Policy magazine and a statement from a senior administration official are shedding light on the administration’s dim view of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, known as UNRWA( United Nation Relief and Work Agency).
‘Honest and sincere’
The statement followed a Foreign Policy report that revealed leaked emails in which Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser overseeing the peace effort, pressed fellow officials to engage in “an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.”
“This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” Kushner wrote in emails dated January 11 and obtained by Foreign Policy. A senior administration official did not dispute the authenticity of the emails to CNN.
UNRWA services more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, offering educational, health and social services across the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The agency educates about 500,000 children in nearly 700 schools and UNRWA doctors see more than 9 million patients in nearly 150 primary health clinics every year.
The US had been the single largest donor to the UNRWA. The decision to cut funding left UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “very concerned” about the impact and sparked what UNRWA officials said was the most serious financial crisis in the agency’s 70-year history.
Kushner’s email came days before the Trump administration announced plans to cut US funding to the refugee agency by more than half. That decision was made following Palestinian officials’ refusal to engage in peace talks with the Trump administration after it announced plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Foreign Policy that Kushner believes Palestinian refugees must be resettled in the countries where they currently reside.
“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” Ashrawi told FP.
(Courtesy: Global Governance Watch)