Jerusalem (CNN) – The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a conservative response to US plans to renew financial support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
In a statement, the ministry refrained from explicitly criticizing the US move, but focused instead on criticizing UNRWA: “Israel’s position is that the organization in its current form perpetuates the conflict and does not contribute to its resolution. Renewal of assistance to UNRWA must be accompanied by fundamental and necessary changes in the nature and objectives. Behavior of the organization. “
And when the Trump administration cut funding to UNRWA completely, in September 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “an important and welcome change.”
A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which was at the time under Netanyahu’s leadership, tweeted: “UNRWA perpetuates the myth of the eternal” refugee “status of the Palestinians. The only goal is to preserve an illegal tool aimed at destroying the State of Israel.
UNRWA was established in 1949 as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. When it began its operations the following year, it was responsible for some 750,000 people who were displaced from or fled their homes during the fighting in the area that became the State of Israel. The agency is also responsible for the descendants of these original refugees, which means that around 5.6 million people are currently eligible for UNRWA services, according to the UNRWA website.
The Palestinians affirm the right of return, and refer to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, passed in 1948, which states that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be allowed to return as soon as possible.
The right of return has long been seen as one of the biggest sticking points in efforts to resolve the conflict because Israel says, among other things, that granting the right of return will spell the end of the state’s Jewish character.
Meanwhile, UNRWA hailed the US announcement on Wednesday in which it said that the United States “has returned its role as a friend and supporter for decades to the United Nations agency,” adding that the news came at a crucial moment.
The recovery of the funds comes after the last years of the severe financial crisis of UNRWA. “The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, forcing the agency to respond to the public health crisis amid the most serious financial crisis in its history and to manage its resources on a monthly basis due to unreliable funding,” the statement said.
The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Muhammad Shtayyeh, also welcomed the change in US policy and expressed his hope that it would lead to renewed American efforts to try to resolve the conflict.
The Palestinian Prime Minister wrote on Twitter: “We welcome the resumption of US aid to UNRWA and Palestine, and we call on the American administration to create a new political path that meets the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people on the basis of international law and United Nations resolutions.”