UNRWA 'unaware' of plans to close its Jerusalem schools

UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” says it is not aware of reported plan by Israel to close its schools in eastern Jerusalem.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

UNRWA headquarters in Gaza
UNRWA headquarters in Gaza
Flash 90

UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, said Sunday it was not aware of a reported plan by Israel to close its schools in eastern Jerusalem, AFP reports.

Channel 12 News reported on Saturday that the National Security Council had decided to take in practice the plan of the former mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, regarding UNRWA institutions in the city, and to implement the part that relates to education as early as next year.

This means that UNRWA schools will no longer be given permits and licenses to operate in eastern Jerusalem and will be replaced by municipal schools.

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

UNRWA, for its part, 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," said UNRWA, which added that Israel was party to commitments obligating it to protect the agency's operations in areas under its authority.

The Channel 12 report indicated that the motivation for Israel’s discussion on UNRWA was US President Donald Trump's decisions against the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

The United States, the largest single contributor to UNRWA, announced last August that it would end its $350 million a year funding for the agency, describing the organization as an “irredeemably flawed operation”.

Since the US announced its funding cut, the organization has received pledges of $100 million in additional funding from countries such as Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France as a means of making up for the aid that was cut by Washington.

The European Union recently announced it would commit a further 20 million euros ($23 million) to UNRWA. Saudi Arabia transferred $50 million to the UN agency in late December.

Created in 1949, UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million people who are registered as “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and territories assigned to the Palestinian Authority.

However, it is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was 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 Geneva-based watchdog UN Watch revealed that UNRWA posted a tweet glorifying a Palestinian Arab terrorist, before deleting it and blaming alleged "brief, unauthorized access" to its Twitter account.