Hotovely to the BBC: UNRWA perpetuates fake refugees

Deputy Foreign Minister says UNRWA has failed to do its job and should conclude its role as an agency which perpetuates fake refugees.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Tzipi Hotovely
Tzipi Hotovely
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Wednesday spoke with the BBC about the United States’ decision to cut by half the funding it provides to UNRWA, the UN’s agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

Hotovely rejected the interviewer’s assertion that the American decision is counterproductive, saying, “What is really counterproductive is the role of UNRWA in perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“Back in the 1950s, there were 750,000 Palestinians registered as ‘refugees’. Now, almost 70 years after the war, we’re talking about five million peoples who are registered as ‘refugees’. This is a major failure of the organization which was supposed to resettle those people who lost a war that they started – of course, we’re speaking about their grandparents who started the War of Independence which they lost.”

“There is only one version of history. They started a war after not accepting the idea of the UN Partition Plan. We need to remember that,” she added.

“The Foreign Ministry is very clear about its message: UNRWA should finish its role as an agency which perpetuates fake refugees,” said Hotovely, who also stressed the importance of foreign aid.

“Foreign aid is something that every country should provide according to the needs of the population. We’re absolutely in favor of foreign aid. This is something that is important. Humanitarian aid is important…but you need to make a major distinction between foreign aid which can be delivered by different groups and organizations and the idea that those people are going to keep living a fantasy that they are refugees, because they are not. According to international law, there is no second and third generation to refugee status.”

Asked whether she supports the White House’s announcement, Hotovely replied, “The White House is following American policy. We can tell you what the Israeli policy is: We think that UNRWA has finished its role. It should no longer be an agency that maintains the status of fake Palestinian refugees and maintains the fantasy that, with this status, they’re going to destroy the state of Israel.”