Hamas: Stopping UNRWA aid destroys 'right of return'

Senior Hamas member warns of the "dangerous American plan" to undermine the status of Jerusalem and the "right of return".

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Dalit Halevi,

Sami Abu Zuhri
Sami Abu Zuhri
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior member of the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, warned Sunday that the American decision to freeze funding for UNRWA, the UN’s agency for “Palestinian refugees”, seeks to put an end to the issue of the so-called “right of return”.

Writing on Twitter, Abu Zuhri said that the move was part of a dangerous American plan and was a continuation of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

His comments follow a meeting which took place in the White House on Friday in which the cutting of aid to the Palestinian Authority and to UNRWA was discussed.

The meeting followed President Donald Trump's tweets last week in which he expressed doubt over the usefulness of American aid to the Palestinians, given their refusal to resume peace talks with Israel.

On Friday it was reported that the U.S. administration had frozen a $125 million grant to UNRWA, which was supposed to be delivered on January 1.

The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, providing approximately a fourth of the organization's budget.

Reports in Israel on Thursday indicated that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is opposed to Trump’s planned cut in the aid to UNRWA, but on Friday Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett said that cutting aid to UNRWA is the correct move.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Foreign Minister, on Sunday said he agreed with Trump’s criticism of UNRWA.

"UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called right of return in order to destroy the State of Israel," Netanyahu said, adding, "UNRWA needs to pass from the world. There is a UN commission for the treatment of the other refugees in the world. This absurdity must be stopped."