UNRWA says not aware of plan to close east Jerusalem schools

UNRWA says not aware of plan to close east Jerusalem schools
UNRWA said they are not aware of a plan by Israel to close its schools in East Jerusalem.
2 min read
21 January, 2019
Israel has long pushed for UNRWA's closure (Getty)

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Sunday it was not aware of a reported plan by Israel to close its schools in east Jerusalem.

Israel's Hadashot television news reported on Saturday night that the country's national security council had taken a decision to close the schools starting next academic year.

It said the students would be absorbed by schools run by Israeli authorities.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office did not confirm the report to AFP.

The UN agency, known as UNRWA, said it "was not notified of any decision to close down schools it operates in east Jerusalem."

"We deliver services and maintain facilities in east Jerusalem since 1950 under our General Assembly mandate," it said in a statement.

"This mandate includes east Jerusalem as part of our operational area."

It added that Israel was party to commitments obligating it to protect the agency's operations in areas under its authority.

Israel has long pushed for UNRWA's closure, arguing it helps perpetuate the conflict with the Palestinians.

It criticises its method of classifying Palestinian refugees since their descendants are also eligible for the status.

US President Donald Trump's administration has supported Israel's stance by cutting aid.

The United States has traditionally been UNRWA's largest contributor, providing around $350 million (300 million euros) a year, but Trump has cancelled all support.

UNRWA's activities include providing education to some 2,359 students in east Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in moves never recognised by the international community.

More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million eligible Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories.