US looks to drive stake through heart of UNRWA at Bahrain conference

According to a U.S. official, the conference’s goal is “to give [the Palestinians] the tools to be independent.”

By World Israel News Staff 

Nearly a year after announcing that it was stopping aid to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Trump Administration reportedly intends to try to close the agency once and for all.

UNRWA was created in December 1949 to assist Arabs who fled or voluntarily left territory that became part of the State of Israel, many of whom were displaced at the behest of Arab leaders who assured them they could return to their homes in short order once Israel was defeated in what later became known as the Jewish state’s War of Independence.

Through the decades, Israel has accused UNRWA of perpetuating the refugee problem, instead of alleviating it by improving the socioeconomic development of the population it serves and securing citizenship for it in a host country.

On August 31, 2018, the U.S. announced that it would no longer spend money on this “irredeemably flawed operation.”

This June, Washington will co-chair an economic conference with Bahrain to persuade Palestinian Arabs that Trump’s “deal of the century” Mideast peace plan will lead to a brighter future.

At the core of this effort, reported the Israel Hayom daily, is the U.S.’ intention to “replace” UNRWA.

“We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organizations, as appropriate,” said Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt last Wednesday at the U.N.

UNRWA Commissioner Pierre Krähenbühl responded to Greenblatt’s comments by maintaining that his agency  is “protected by the [United Nations] General Assembly,” implying that the U.S. lacks authority to dissolve UNRWA, a position shared by Palestinian officials.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) says that it will boycott the Bahrain conference.

“The Palestinian issue and national rights are not up for sale, and economic initiatives and imaginary promises to the world will not cover the evil face of the ‘deal of the century,’ which is intended to eradicate the Palestinian issue,” said a PA statement released last Thursday.

A U.S. source told Israel Hayom that the objective is to “break the endless cycle of the conflict, to turn assistance into development, dependency into sustainability…the idea is to give them the tools to be independent.”