Aug. 6, 2018
- U.S. Targets UNRWA – Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer
Senior U.S. presidential advisor Jared Kushner has quietly been trying to do away with the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA, according to internal emails obtained by Foreign Policy. His initiative is part of a broader push by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress to address the issue. “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in an email dated Jan. 11. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
Many Israel supporters in the U.S. see UNRWA as part of an international infrastructure that has artificially kept the refugee issue alive and kindled hopes among Palestinians that they might someday return home. Critics of the agency point to its policy of granting refugee status not just to those who fled Mandatory Palestine 70 years ago but to their descendants as well – an accounting that puts the refugee population at around 5 million.
Victoria Coates, a senior advisor to Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, sent an email in January to the White House’s national security staff saying, “UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019.” Other ideas being discussed in the U.S. include asking UNRWA to operate on a month-to-month budget and devising “a plan to remove all anti-Semitism from educational materials.”
Elad Strohmayer, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said, “We believe that UNRWA needs to pass from the world as it is an organization that advocates politically against Israel and perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem.” (Foreign Policy)