UNRWA concerned over plan to shut its East Jerusalem operation

In this file photo,a Palestinian man carries a bag of wheat flour distributed at an aid distribution centre of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2018

UNRWA concerned over plan to shut its East Jerusalem operation

JERUSALEM: The UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees expressed concern on Friday over moves by the mayor of Jerusalem to close down its operations in the city.
Mayor Nir Barkat said on Thursday he had developed a plan to end the Jerusalem operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which aids Palestinians displaced by the 1948 war of Israel’s founding and to millions of their descendants, and to replace them with Israeli services.
UNRWA has faced a financial crisis since the United States in August announced it was cutting aid to the body, calling it an “irredeemably flawed operation” with an “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.”
Barkat, on Twitter, said the US decision created an opportunity to change the current situation, which he said would otherwise “perpetuate the ‘refugee problem’ and encourage incitement.”
UNRWA, in a statement, said it “expresses its concern about recent statements made by the mayor of Jerusalem on its operations and installations in East Jerusalem.”
“UNRWA has continuously maintained operations in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem since 1967 with the cooperation and on the basis of a formal agreement with the State of Israel, which remains in force,” it said.
It said it provided education, health, relief and social services in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as a capital of a future state.
Barkat said that under his plan the municipality would take over education, welfare and health services. “We provide services for all residents alike — there are no refugees in our city,” he said.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital. The government’s Central Bureau of Statistics says it has a population of 900,000, including about 340,000 Arabs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past called for UNRWA to be dismantled.


Palestinian official Erekat in critical, stable condition

Updated 9 min ago

Palestinian official Erekat in critical, stable condition

  • Erekat was receiving artificial respiration in the intensive care unit at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center
  • He was a senior adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and current President Mahmoud Abbas

JERUSALEM: Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat remained in critical but stable condition in an Israeli hospital Tuesday, his family said, after he was infected with the coronavirus.
Erekat’s family told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that he was receiving artificial respiration in the intensive care unit at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center.
Erekat, 65, has been one of the Palestinians’ most recognizable faces over the past several decades, serving as a senior negotiator in talks with Israel. He was also a senior adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and current President Mahmoud Abbas.
He was hospitalized Sunday at the Jerusalem hospital despite the Palestinian leadership’s decision earlier this year to sever ties with Israel over plans to begin annexing parts of the occupied West Bank as part of President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan.
The hospital said Monday that Erekat’s case was extremely challenging in light of his history of health problems, including a lung transplant in 2017. It said he suffered from a weak immune system, and a bacterial infection in addition to COVID-19.