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Netanyahu: UN Palestinian refugee agency 'must disappear'

09 January 2018

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said Sunday that it would hold on its work under the mandate of the UN General Assembly, following Israel's call to gradually shut down the agency, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesman, said the refugee crisis was being perpetuated by "failure of the parties to deal with the issue". The U.S. later denied the report, saying the funding was still "under review". He added that the organization "must disappear" because the Palestinians' right to return to Israel was a stance meant to eliminate the State of Israel.

Palestinian officials have said Trump's declaration on Jerusalem, overturning decades of USA policy, meant he could not serve as an honest broker in peace negotiations that Washington has been trying to revive, and they condemned his remarks on a funding halt as blackmail.

Israel is deeply critical of UNRWA, charging that the organization harbors terrorists and perpetuates the Palestinian "refugee" problem indefinitely, thus blocking a potential resolution to the conflict. Moreover, it said that in at least two cases terrorists "probably" fired rockets at Israel from the schools during the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.

One tourist killed, 12 injured in air balloon crash in Egypt
In 2016, 22 Chinese tourists were injured when their balloon crash landed, after which Egypt temporarily halted balloon rides. The incident was caused by strong winds that forced the balloon off its course above the city's temples and tombs.

The Israeli Prime Minister said that practical steps must be taken to change the situation in which "UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it".

UNRWA's response came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for cutting aid to UNRWA until it ceases to exist. Netanyahu's calls could have major repercussions for the 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and 174,422 now living in the country. "They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel".

A Friday report on Israeli Channel 10 television said the USA had frozen a payment due to UNRWA, but a spokesman for the United Nations organisation said on Saturday that they "have not been informed directly of a formal decision either way by the U.S. administration".

"There is no existing schedule that obligates the United States to provide specific amounts of aid to UNWRA on specific dates", said the official in a statement from Washington.

Netanyahu: UN Palestinian refugee agency 'must disappear'