RAMALLAH (Rahnuma) Palestinian presidency slammed the U.S. attempt to liquidate the Palestinian issue as a “conspiracy,” saying it comes at the expense of the issue of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
Official Palestinian news agency (WAFA) reported on Saturday that the Palestinian position comes in response to a U.S. report saying U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner would work to dismantle the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and push the issue of the Palestinian refugees off the table of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.
“The determination of the Palestinian leadership and the steadfastness of our people will foil all conspiracies to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” said a statement published on WAFA.
“The issue of refugees is a final status issue, which will only be resolved through negotiations,” the statement added.
The Palestinian presidency urged the international community and “particularly the UN Security Council to work out a just solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the resolutions of international community, and to foil any attempt to end the refugees issue.”
The U.S. report said Kushner “has been quietly trying to do away with the U.S. relief agency that has provided food and essential services to millions of Palestinian refugees for decades.”
Kushner’s initiate is part of a broader push by the Trump administration and its allies in the congress to strip these Palestinians of their refugee status in the region and take their issues off the table in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the statement said.
At least two bills are making their way through congress regarding the issue.
One of the bills would limit the U.S. aid to original refugees from 1948. The other one would redirect U.S. funding away from UNRWA and to other local and international agencies.
The United States has cut off fund to UNRWA since the beginning of the year by half, narrowing it down to 60 million U.S. dollars, amidst heightened financial crisis the agency suffers from.
This came after the U.S. administration threatened to reduce financial support to the Palestinians until they agree to return to the table for peace negotiations with Israel, which has been stalled for four years.
UNRWA has been suffering from severe financial difficulties for several years and complained at the end of last year of a budget deficit of 49 million dollars that affects the level of its services.
Palestinian officials have said that the U.S. move to reduce UNRWA funds comes in line with the new policy of President Trump to ignore the final issues of the peace process, by removing the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees “off the table,” as he tweeted after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, 2017.