PA blasts Jerusalem Mayor's plan to expel UNRWA

PA cabinet chief says Nir Barkat's plan to expel UNRWA from Shuafat amounts to contempt for international law.

Dalit Halevi ,

Rami Hamdallah
Rami Hamdallah

Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet chief Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday condemned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's plan to expel UNRWA from the Shuafat neighborhood of the city and replace the services it provides with those of the municipality.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Ramallah, Hamdallah said that Barkat's remarks amounted to contempt for the international community, international institutions and international law.

The Barkat plan, he charged, is intended to deliberately harm the “Palestinian refugees” and their rights under international law, and is the result of the American political, legal and financial backing for Israel, which encourages it to continue its "aggression" against the "helpless" Palestinian people.

Earlier on Tuesday, Barkat reiterated Monday's announcement of his intention to expel UNRWA organization from Jerusalem.

In a tweet, Barkat wrote: "I am removing UNRWA from Jerusalem and replacing their failing services with successful municipal initiatives. Wherever the municipality operates, the Arab public is more satisfied & less violent. Removing UNRWA will reduce incitement & terrorism, and promote unity & sovereignty."

The organization has been responsible for about 30,000 residents in Shuafat and provides them with municipal services as well as caring for their education and welfare since 1965.

Barkat said he "instructed the municipality's professional staff to prepare a work plan that I will present to the Prime Minister for evacuating UNRWA from Jerusalem.”

The Mayor said that rather than rehabilitating eastern Jerusalem's Arab population, UNRWA had a consistent track record of causing the residents' relationship with the State of Israel to deteriorate.

Last week, the US announced that it would halt its funding to UNRWA. In response, the PLO called on parliaments around the world to oppose the US decision.