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. 

 


Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

Updated 01 June 2020

Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

  • Gantz said he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank
  • Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on the plan

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank, a plan that could stoke Palestinian violence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state.
Gantz's directive appeared to indicate that the centrist politician had either signed on to the move, or at least believed it would be inevitable, given right-wing support in the Netanyahu-led coalition cabinet.
In public remarks to legislators of his centrist Blue and White party, Gantz noted a recent uptick in anti-Israeli violence in the West Bank and the Palestinians' declaration last month that they were ending security cooperation with Israel over the annexation issue.
He said he had subsequently ordered the chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, to "examine all the ramifications and the required preparations" stemming from moving ahead with the peace plan US President Donald Trump announced in January, a blueprint that could ease annexation.
In a separate written statement, Gantz said "preparations by the Israel Defence Forces should be stepped up ahead of pending diplomatic moves regarding the Palestinians".
The Palestinians have rejected Trump's proposal, under which the vast majority of West Bank settlements built by Israel on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war would be incorporated into "contiguous Israeli territory".
The Palestinians and most countries consider such settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.
The Trump plan also envisages a Palestinian state under near-complete Israeli security control, creating what Palestinians leaders say would be an unviable country.
Sami Abu Zuhri, an official with militant group Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, another part of Palestinians' hoped-for future state, told Reuters: "The call of the occupation army to get ready for annexation of the West Bank is a call for war, and the occupation will regret this crime, and soon realise they are committing a grave mistake."