The United States called Wednesday for dismantling UNRWA, the UN agency that oversees Palestinian refugees, saying the organization had failed in its core mission.
In an address to the UN Security Council, U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt described UNRWA as a “bandaid” and declared it was time to hand over services assured by the agency to countries hosting Palestinian Arab refugees and NGOs.
UNRWA is perpetuating the refugee crisis by using a unique criterion for defining Palestinian refugees. A 2018 census by the Lebanese government found that the number of Palestinian refugees in the country is only 38% of the 450,000 UNRWA claims, drawing renewed scrutiny regarding the agency’s commonly-cited total of 5 million refugees across the region.
“Since the establishment of UNRWA, the United States has contributed about $6 billion, but there has been no progress in the quality of life of the Palestinians. UNRWA has abandoned the Palestinians, and they deserve much more,” Greenblatt said.
“The UNRWA model has failed the Palestinian people,” the envoy added.
The U.S. administration had previously indicated that funding for UNRWA would be withheld in response to a lack of movement toward peace by the Palestinian leadership.
UNRWA has long been accused of ignoring its mandate to alleviate the plight of Palestinian refugees and instead promoting incitement against Israelis, including even sheltering terrorists. With their actions, the organization has directly facilitated terrorism.
In his speech to the security council, Greenblatt also repeated his call for the Palestinian Authority to participate in the U.S.-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain next month. “It would be a mistake for the Palestinians not to join us. They have nothing to lose and much to gain if they do join us. But it is, of course, their choice,” he said.
Greenblatt also stressed the “irony” of the workshop taking place at the same time UNRWA is set to host a “pledging conference for a broken system,” that will waste more desperately needed funds for the Palestinian people.
[Photo: Al Jazeera English / YouTube]