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UNRWA condemns Jerusalem mayor’s plan to shut down agency in East Jerusalem

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UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing life saving services to 5 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, released a statement Friday expressing its deep concern over statements made by the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat on plans to remove UNRWA from East Jerusalem.

Barkat announced on Thursday plans to end the UNRWA’s operations in occupied East Jerusalem, accusing the agency of “operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel.”

Israeli media reported that Barkat plans to end the agency’s services in schools, clinics and sports centers, among others, and transfer the operations to Israeli authorities.

The Jerusalem municipality reportedly plans to shut down UNRWA schools that serve around 1,800 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem, by the end of the current school year.

In his statement, Barkat said the municipality has coordinated with the Israeli government on the move, which was prompted after the US decision to end all of its financial aid — around $300 million — to the agency earlier this year.

“The US decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with the services of the Jerusalem Municipality,” Barkat said, adding that removing UNRWA will “end the lie of the Palestinian refugee problem”.

UNRWA condemned Barkat’s statements: “[S]uch messaging challenges the core principles of impartial and independent humanitarian action and does not reflect the robust and structured dialogue and interaction that UNRWA and the State of Israel have traditionally maintained.”

The agency highlighted that it is “specifically mandated by the UN General Assembly to deliver protection and assistance to Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, pending a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“The Agency is recognized for the important work it carries out in education, health-care, relief and social services in East Jerusalem. It is determined to continue carrying out these services,” UNRWA said.

Both Israel and the US have repeatedly criticized UNRWA for the way it counts Palestinian refugees. The agency says it serves 5,226,603 registered refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The total number of refugees includes the descendants of refugees who were originally displaced during the creation of Israel in 1948.

The US has demanded UNRWA reform its operations before restoring its funding, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the total dismantlement of the agency, which he accuses of “perpetuating” the Palestinian refugee issue.

UNRWA was established in 1949 by the UN General Assembly to provide life-saving services such as education, health care, food assistance, and work programs for Palestinian refugees “pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.”

UNRWA relies almost entirely on voluntary donor funding, which according to the agency, has been surpassed by a growth in the number of Palestinian refugees, resulting in a severe shortage of funding for essential programs.

The UN reported in August that aid funding for the occupied Palestinian territory was at an “all-time low,” and that only a quarter of the nearly $540 million needed in funding this year has been received.

The agency currently runs 702 schools for Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, providing education to more than 500,000 students, and employing close to 22,000 teachers and staff.

With the organization scrambling to stay afloat, international and local officials have expressed fear that the recent budget cuts by the US will aggravate an already dire humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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8 Responses

  1. Kay24 on October 6, 2018, 12:09 pm

    It is time the world stop acting like Israel has any jurisdiction, or rights, to East Jerusalem.
    They should stop enabling the monster, that is gobbling up all the land, and encroaching on parts they have no right to. If East Jerusalem was for the Palestinians, or disputed, UNRWA must remain there.
    Israel has got away with everything, and their crimes, including the massacre of civilians.

  2. Ossinev on October 6, 2018, 2:10 pm

    “Israel has got away with everything, and their crimes, including the massacre of civilians”

    There is a pattern to what Zionist Israelis are doing. Look at Nazi Germany in the 1930`s getting away with what they were doing to the defenceless civilian Jewish population in their fantasy “Third Reich”. The appeasement of incremental degradation and ethnic cleansing eventually lead to clinical scientific genocide. The only thing deterring the current version of these animals is modern information technology. If you look at some of the comments about Palestinians in the Jerusalem Post and other right wing Israeli newspapers you get a real sense of deja vu.

  3. Maghlawatan on October 6, 2018, 4:28 pm

    “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose”
    James Baldwin

    Zionism is so fucking stupid

  4. DaBakr on October 7, 2018, 12:56 am

    I always got a bad taste in my mouth whenever I saw those hypocritical white marked vans driving through Jerusalem.

    • Misterioso on October 8, 2018, 10:33 am


      I always get “a bad taste in my mouth” whenever I read how American Zionists, including the disgusting casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, are playing the U.S. for suckers by bribing its politicians to continue supporting the entity known as “Israel,” despite its well documented monstrous ongoing and escalating crimes against Palestinians and other Arabs

      To wit:

      If Americans Knew Blog, Sept. 23/18
      “Sheldon Adelson spending $100 million to keep control of U.S. policies on Israel”

      “Casino billionaire’s total contributions on behalf of Israel in 2016 & 2018 reported to surpass $100 million, possibly making him the largest single donor in American politics today”
      By Amir Tibon, reposted from Ha’aretz

      WASHINGTON – “Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson is reportedly spending at least $55 million during the upcoming midterm elections in order to keep Republicans in control of Congress. Adelson’s spending commitment was first reported on Saturday by the New York Times, in an article describing how Adelson has become the most influential donor in the Republican Party during U.S. President Donald Trump’s time in office.

      “According to the report, Adelson’s total spending on behalf of the Republicans in the 2016 and 2018 election combined, will surpass $100 million, probably making him the largest single donor in American politics today. Adelson had previously spent tens of millions of dollars during the 2012 election in a failed attempt to help Mitt Romney, that year’s Republican nominee, oust Barack Obama from the White House.”


      Sheldon Adelson: “Best Government Money Can Buy” By Philip M. Giraldi
      October 6/18

      “Very few Americans know who Sheldon Adelson is and fewer still appreciate that, as America’s leading political donor, when he speaks the Republican Party listens. By virtue of his largesse, he has been able to direct GOP policy in the Middle East in favor of Israel, which might well be regarded as his true home while the United States exists more as a faithful friend that can be produced at intervals whenever Israel finds itself in need of a bit of cash or political cover.

      “Adelson’s recent successes in translating his political donations into policy favorable to Israel have included shifting the US Embassy to Jerusalem, cutting aid to Palestinians, ending the Iranian nuclear monitoring agreement and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic office in Washington. All those Trump Administration measures were reportedly worked out privately by Adelson speaking directly with the president.

      “Adelson’s activities in buying politicians reflect what he believes, he reportedly having said that ‘there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.’ Nor does his world view include much concern for the country that has sheltered him and made him wealthy. He served in the US Army in World War 2 and has said that he regrets having done so, as he would rather have worn an Israeli army uniform. He also expressed his desire that his son might become an Israeli Army sniper.

      “Adelson benefits from his exceptional access to the White House to the detriment of actual American interests. A New York Times article ‘Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington,’ states that he ‘enjoys a direct line to the president’ and meets the president monthly ‘in private in-person meetings and phone conversations.’ He has been delighted with the openly expressed threats emanating from the Administration’s key foreign and national security policy spokesmen regarding Iran. He would like to see the United States go to war with the Iranians to destroy their government and bring about some kind of regime change, and, judging from recent developments, he just might get what he seeks, which could easily have catastrophic consequences for the entire region and beyond.

      “Adelson is somewhat unhinged on the issue of Iran and has even called for dropping a nuclear bomb on a desert region of the country as a negotiating tactic to show ‘we mean business’ so Washington could then ‘impose its demands [on Iran] from a position of strength.’ If Iran continued to resist, Adelson would to drop the next one on Tehran. If Tehran were to be nuked millions of Iranians would die, which doesn’t bother Adelson one bit. Such a development would, in Adelson’s opinion, be good for Israel, which is his primary concern.”

      • DaBakr on October 8, 2018, 2:49 pm


        So what your saying is you have a big bug up your butt about adelson. he’s physically of the type that makes your level of disgust more palpable. got it. when you legitimately make a few billion you can try to take him down

        P’s. There are a lot of anti Israel Arab Muslim billionaires around.

    • Mooser on October 8, 2018, 4:05 pm

      “I always got a bad taste in my mouth whenever I saw those hypocritical white marked vans driving through Jerusalem.”

      It’s all the pastrami on rye with mustard and a pickle you’ve been eating. “Yonah” recommends a white-bread with mayonnaise sandwich, which consumes 47 times its own weight in excess stomach acid.

  5. John O on October 7, 2018, 8:20 am

    Bile does give a fellow bad breath.

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