Jordan to raise UNRWA funding at UN General Assembly

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, speaks to journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah on September 1, 2018. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Updated 02 September 2018

Jordan to raise UNRWA funding at UN General Assembly

  • The US is invalidating future peace talks by “pre-empting” and “prejudging” final-status issues, says chief Palestinian negotiator
  • Jordan launches Arab and international campaign to support UNRWA

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. 


Libyan government boasts of new weapons despite arms embargo

Updated 25 min 15 sec ago

Libyan government boasts of new weapons despite arms embargo

CAIRO/BENGHAZI, Libya: Fighters allied with the Tripoli government in Libya say they have received armored vehicles and “quality weapons” despite a UN arms embargo on the country.
A Facebook page linked to the Government of National Accord (GNA) posted photos appearing to show more than a dozen armored vehicles arriving at a port, without saying who supplied them.
The Facebook page is run by the media office for the GNA’s counter-offensive against Khalifa Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA).
Supporters of the various militias allied with the government say the vehicles, which resemble Turkish-made Kirpi armored vehicles, were supplied by Turkey.
Spokesmen for Turkey’s military and Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities as they repel an offensive launched by the LNA
The battle for the Libyan capital has threatened to ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. The UN Security Council imposed an open-ended arms embargo on Libya in February of the same year.
Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister for the Tripoli-based government, also visited Turkey late in April to activate “security and defense agreements” between the two governments.
The offensive on Tripoli was launched April 4 by the LNA, which controls the country’s eastern half.
Haftar, who in recent years has been battling extremists and other militias across eastern Libya, says he is determined to restore stability to the North African country. He has received support from several countries in the region including the UAE and Egypt.
“The GNA supplies armor, ammunition and ... weapons, to its forces who are defending Tripoli,” read a statement published on Facebook.
The weapons embargo has been regularly violated by different groups in Libya, according to the UN. Haftar has accused Turkey and Qatar of supplying weapons to his rivals.
In a September report, the UN’s group of experts on the country noted an increase in the number of armored vehicles supplied to LNA.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities.
Initially controlling swathes of Libya’s east, Haftar launched an offensive in the south of the country in January before attacking the coastal capital last month.
His forces have been held back from the city center by pro-government forces, with fighting continuing on the outskirts of Tripoli and particularly in the southern suburbs.

Daesh attack

Two guards and a soldier were killed and four other people were kidnapped on Saturday in a suspected Daesh attack targeting Libya’s Zella oilfield, a security source said.
The death toll was confirmed by the National Oil Company (NOC) which condemned the attack in a statement on Saturday evening.
The attackers struck at an entrance gate to the field, which lies near the town of Zella about 760 km southwest of the capital, Tripoli, before fleeing, according to the source and local residents who asked not to be named.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq news agency later on Saturday.
The Zella field belongs to Zueitina Oil Company, which pumped 19,000 barrels per day on average in the last quarter of 2018 across all its fields.
An engineer told Reuters workers at the field were safe and facilities had not been damaged.
Libya’s NOC chief said on Saturday continued instability in the country could cause it to lose 95 percent of oil production.
Speaking in Saudi Arabia ahead of a ministerial panel gathering on Sunday of top OPEC and non-OPEC producers, Mustafa Sanalla also confirmed the Zella attack.
Islamic State has been active in Libya in the turmoil since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The militant group took control of the coastal city of Sirte in 2015 but lost it late in 2016 to local forces backed by US airstrikes.
In the last two years, the group has targeted three state institutions in Tripoli, home of the UN-backed government of national accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Serraj.
Saturday’s assault took place as LNA, which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya, mounts an offensive to control Tripoli.