Israel and UAE 'collaborating to eliminate UNRWA': report
UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide relief and development services to Palestinian refugees expelled by Israeli forces from their homeland during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific conflict.
|Le Monde correspondent Benjamin Barthe tweeted that UAE officials were working to 'gradually eliminate' UNRWA|
Israel has long demanded that UNRWA be dissolved, because the agency's existence draws continued attention to the displacement and hardship of Palestinian refugees.
The writer of the Le Monde report, Benjamin Barthe, said in a Twitter thread that "Emirati officials are considering an action plan intended to gradually eliminate UNRWA, without making this development conditional on a resolution of the [Palestinian] refugee problem."
Donald Trump cut off US funding to UNRWA in 2018, and this has severely impacted the agency’s ability to provide aid and health services to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip in particular.
In November 2020, UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillippe Lazzarini said that the UN body was “on the edge of a cliff”, unable to cover its expenses for the first time in its history.
Barthe added on Twitter that while in 2018 and 2019 the UAE, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, had funded UNRWA, helping to offset the US cut-off in aid, in 2020 the UAE also cut off most of its financing of the agency, even as it was "on the verge of bankruptcy".
Barthe said that officials from the UAE and Israel had been working on the plan to eliminate UNRWA since the two countries announced in August that they would normalise relations.
UNRWA's mandate was renewed by the UN General Assembly in November 2019 for three years.