Monday, May 23rd | 22 Iyyar 5782

September 2, 2018 1:04 pm

Israeli Leaders, Jewish Groups Hail Defunding of UNRWA

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli and Jewish leaders offered praise over the weekend for the US’s decision on Friday to defund the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

In a speech at a local school, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Palestinians and the UN had “created a unique institution, 70 years ago, not to absorb the refugees but to perpetuate them. Therefore the US has done a very important thing by halting the financing for the refugee perpetuation agency known as UNRWA. It is finally beginning to resolve the problem.”

Netanyahu added, “The funds must be taken and used to genuinely help rehabilitate the refugees, the true number of which is much smaller than the number reported by UNRWA. This is a welcome and important change and we support it.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also praised the move, saying, “We welcome the US’s decision as UNRWA has proven itself an impediment to resolving the conflict by keeping the Palestinians in perpetual refugee status … It’s about time that the Palestinian leadership abandoned its victimhood and incitement campaign, and takes concrete steps to improve the Palestinians future.”

Bnai Brith International joined in the praise, tweeting, “Over 7 decades US has spent $6B-far more than any other nation-supporting UNRWA, a bloated, severely politicized agency that has afforded Palestinians attention & terms denied all other refugee groups. We commend the White House for suspending funding until genuine reform occurs.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition also weighed in, saying in a statement, “The Trump Administration made the correct call on a very difficult decision today. Ultimately, UNRWA is no longer viable because it continues to expand the number of beneficiaries at an unsustainable pace.”

“What should be specifically noted is that the Trump Administration is committed to finding ways of working around UNRWA with other nations and assistance groups, and even directly with the Palestinians, to help the people, especially the children, in a better, more efficient manner. Ultimately, cutting out UNRWA was the best decision for the United States and the people who need the help the most. We applaud the Trump Administration for leading on the world stage,” the statement added.

Praise also came from outside the US and Israel. Alex Ryvchin, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, tweeted, “The US has broken the UNRWA racket – a Palestinian-only UN agency with more staff and more money than the UNHCR which handles ALL other global refugees.”

Writing prior to the announcement of the funding cuts, David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, criticized the UN agency in an op-ed. On Thursday he tweeted a link to his article and wrote, “Unlike any other group on the planet, #Palestinians are deemed “refugees” forever. Children, grandchildren, etc., of 1948 refugees are themselves considered refugees. Unprecedented. Hugely problematic to achieving any peace deal w/ #Israel. High time to change the absurd policy.”

The Palestinians, as was expected, slammed the US action. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated, “70% of the residents of Gaza are refugees. The majority of them live on UNRWA aid. So president Trump says to cancel UNRWA and give humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza. How is it possible to cancel UNRWA on the one hand and give aid to the Palestinians in a humanitarian way on the other?”

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashwari said, “I would be careful not to gloat over these decisions by the United States, because both peoples will pay the price.”

Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh openly threatened the internationalization of the issue, saying, “The Palestinian leadership is checking the possibility of turning to the UN General Assembly and Security Council in order to oppose the US decision on the UNRWA issue.”

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.