Deputy foreign minister: UNRWA is the problem, not the solution

Tzipi Hotovely presented dozens of foreign diplomats with Israel’s alternate model for helping Palestinian refugees.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a special briefing Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told 50 foreign diplomats that their countries should stop supporting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), just as U.S. President Donald Trump did at the end of August, Israel Hayom reported.

“Israel’s policy is that UNRWA should be closed down,” she said about the U.N. organization that was set up to assist Palestinian refugees after Israel was established. “They’re the problem, not the solution.”

“Over the years, we’ve seen how ,instead of resettling the original refugees, UNRWA worked to raise the number of refugees when it automatically passed on their refugee status from one generation to the next. There is no other situation like this in the world, and it just perpetuates the conflict,” she said. “It’s clear to everyone that fewer than 100,000 Palestinians from the time of the War of Independence are still alive today.”

In a first, Hotovely presented the European, Russian and Canadian diplomats with the Israeli government’s alternative plan for taking care of the Palestinians and their descendants – the “Jordanian model.”

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“Jordan gave de facto citizenship to the refugees [who fled there]. This is the correct model for Syria and Lebanon as well,” she said, according to the report.

Hotovely also related to those who are still considered refugees while living within Israel’s expanded borders as well as in the Gaza Strip.

‘Fake refugees’

“You have to differentiate between east Jerusalem, where Israel is in control, and the areas of the Palestinian Authority,” she stated. “There is no justification for having two parallel educational systems for the same people. The PA is responsible for education in Area A; it shouldn’t be UNRWA’s responsibility. On the other hand, the situation in Gaza is complicated, and we have to find other U.N. organizations, like UNDP [United Nations Development Program], which are substitute channels for humanitarian assistance.”

The bottom line, however, was clear to her, and she requested that the diplomats bring her message back to their governments: “There is no justification for preserving millions of fake refugees.”

Representatives of Switzerland and Norway, two of the biggest UNRWA supporters in the West since the U.S. pulled its funding, argued that the Palestinian refugees’ status should remain as is.