Report: Netanyahu changed UNRWA policy unilaterally

Defense officials complain PM decided to support defunding UNRWA without consulting Security Cabinet or security experts.

Gary Willig ,

Netanyahu, Trump
Netanyahu, Trump
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu changed the State of Israel's policy on UNRWA secretly and without conducting any consultations, News 10 reported Sunday evening.

Senior Israeli officials told News 10 that the government had been opposed to a complete cutting off of all funds to UNRWA just a few weeks ago. The IDF, COGAT, and the Shin Bet believed that such a move could lead to increased violence from Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

According to the report, Prime Minister Netanyahu unilaterally changed the government's policy without consulting the Security Cabinet several weeks ago when he instructed Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer to support the cutoff of funds to UNRWA to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The officials stated that they were caught off guard by the sudden change in policy. One official said: "None of us understood where this came from."

Netanyahu praised the US Administration's decision to cease all funding to UNRWA Sunday.

"They created a special institution 70 years ago - not to absorb the refugees, but to eternalize them. The United States did something very important when it stopped the money for UNRWA. It is finally starting to solve the problem. The refugee institution must be cancelled, the money must be taken to really help rehabilitate the refugees, whose number is much smaller than the number reported in UNRWA,” Netanyahu said.

The US announced the move Friday.

“The Administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“When we made a U.S. contribution of $60 million in January, we made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA's costs that we had assumed for many years. Several countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Sweden, Qatar, and the UAE have shown leadership in addressing this problem, but the overall international response has not been sufficient,” she added.

“Beyond the budget gap itself and failure to mobilize adequate and appropriate burden sharing, the fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years - tied to UNRWA's endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries - is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” the statement continued.

“We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business. These children are part of the future of the Middle East. Palestinians, wherever they live, deserve better than an endlessly crisis-driven service provision model. They deserve to be able to plan for the future.”

The US donated $370 million to the agency in 2017 and $355 million in 2016.

UNRWA has been criticized for its connections to terrorist organizations, for the incitement in its schools, and for perpetuating and enlarging the Arab refugee issue for decades. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, explosives at a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

More recently, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza expressed his support for the anti-Israel marches along the Israel-Gaza border and pledged that the organization’s medical centers will provide care for "Palestinian refugees"” who might sustain injuries during them.