AMMAN: Palestinians reacted angrily on Saturday to a US decision to end all funding for the UN agency that assists some 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The US, which until last year was by far the biggest contributor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said it will no longer make any contributions to the “irredeemably flawed operation.”
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said: “Palestinian refugees are already victims who have lost their homes, livelihoods and security as a result of the creation of the state of Israel.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the US is invalidating future peace talks by “pre-empting” and “prejudging” final-status issues.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said the US decision is “unfortunate.” The UAE will continue to support the agency, he added.
Meanwhile, Jordan has launched an Arab and international campaign to support UNRWA. Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Kayed told Arab News: “We plan to raise the issue during the upcoming regular foreign ministers’ meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, and at the start of the UN General Assembly meetings that begin on Sept. 18 in New York.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly will mobilize support for UNRWA to continue core education and health services. “The continuation of UNRWA means continued commitment by the international community to working towards a just solution… ,” he said.
Safadi raised the issue last week with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, where officials say the foreign minister warned of “dangerous consequences” to regional stability if the financial crisis is not resolved.
Wajih Azizeh, who held the Palestinian affairs portfolio at Jordan’s Foreign Ministry for many years, told Arab News that the US move to totally cut aid to UNRWA is “unilateral and unjust.”
He said: “Palestinian refugees left their homes against their will, and according to UN resolution 194 they have a right to return and be given compensation.”
He added: “By violating article 11 of that resolution, which calls on Israel to allow the return of Palestinian refugees, Israel is responsible for the refugees and their descendants.”
Anis F. Kassim, editor of the Palestine Yearbook of International Law, said Israel was only accepted as a UN member after it agreed to allow the return of Palestinian refugees.