Minister Tzipi Hotovely
Minister Tzipi HotovelyElram Mandel

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) slammed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in a blistering speech she gave on Sunday to Israel's ambassadors in the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas.

In her address, Hotovely called on nations around the world to stop donating to UNRWA, which she claimed perpetuates the Israeli-Arab conflict.

"The UNRWA era is over," said Hotovely. "I want to raise this issue with every country that donates to UNRWA and demand that they divert their money to real humanitarian organizations and stop cultivating the Palestinian right of return that perpetuates the conflict".

"For many years, the international community simply ignored the Palestinian demand for return [to the State of Israel] and created a distorted reality in which the Palestinians continue to be considered refugees who wish to return to Jaffa, Acre, Lod and Ramle, and in fact aspire to the destruction of the State of Israel," continued Hotovely.

Hotovely also called out the UN for applying refugee status to the descendants of Arabs that fled Israel, a definition which is not enjoyed by any other refugee group in the world. "This approach does not reflect the definition of a refugee under international law, which never lets the descendants of refugees 'inherit' the refugees status as well" accused Hotovely.

The United States had announced last week that it would heavily cut the funding it gives to UNRWA after US President Donald Trump questioned the wisdom of providing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority given their refusal to resume peace talks with Israel.

The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, providing approximately a fourth of the organization's budget. However, Belgium pledged to allocate an extra $23 million to UNRWA in response to make up for the resulting budget shortfall.

"For a lot of Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA is the last life buoy. With the help of UNRWA half a million of Palestine children are able to go to school. This prevents them from falling prey to radicalization and extreme violence" said Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

For years, UNRWA has been a target for criticism in light of Hamas's activity in its educational institutions and the use of its facilities by Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations in Gaza.

UNRWA was documented storing Hamas rockets and weapons "designed to kill Israeli citizens" in its schools, a fact which the UNRWA chief admitted himself.

In addition, the organization has actively taken part in inciting anti-Semitic violence.