Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Israel plans to shut down UNRWA schools

By Ary Gotlib - February 05, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UNRWA] [Jerusalem] [Jerusalem municipality]

Starting next school year, Israeli authorities have decided to close schools in occupied East Jerusalem run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), Israel’s Hadashot TV news reported January 19.

According to the report, the UNRWA schools will be replaced by schools managed by the Jerusalem municipality and under control of the Israeli Education Ministry.
Instead of UNRWA, the Jerusalem municipality also wants to take responsibility for welfare services, the collection of the garbage and cleaning up of Shuafat refugee camp.
Founded in 1965 in East Jerusalem, Shuafat is home to some 20,000 Palestinian refugees.
Serving over 3,000 students, UNRWA runs seven schools in two refugee camps that sit within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.
The decision to close UNRWA schools comes after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced a plan last October to shut UNRWA in East Jerusalem.
“The [UN] agency cast doubts on the legality of such a step in light of Israeli agreements with the United Nations,” wrote Haaretz.
Nir Barkat had accused UNRWA of abandoning people under its purview and thereby inciting terror activity.
In cooperation with the government, the plan provides for the closure of UNRWA offices on Ammunition Hill, on the basis it is “ an illegal organization operating to advance terrorism and incitement,” a municipality statement said.
This decision aims to blow up the 'lie’ of the 'Palestinian refugee problem,’ - following the words of the city’s statement - “which is part of the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda under UN sponsorship and encouragement, which aims to destroy Israel by eternalizing refugee status and the perpetual call for the 'right of return’ to Israel,” reported haaretz.
The Times of Israel stated that the move, after UNRWA has seen its budget sharply cut by the US of $350 million, would come as the latest strike against the UNRWA.
On Sunday, Sami Meshasha, the spokesperson for the agency said in a press statement that “UNRWA’s existence in Jerusalem is not a gift from Israel.”
He pointed to the bilateral agreements which commits Israel to respect the agency's installations, jurisdiction and immunity in Jerusalem.
"In addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts are in violation of this Convention," Meshasha further stated, as related Al-Jazeera.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation executive committee stated that this decision, within the framework of the occupying state's strategy of Judaizing the Holy City, targets Jerusalem and its institutions.
She said that it is “promoting the policy of ethnic cleansing, forced displacement and extending control over all aspects of life.”
Palestinians in East Jerusalem are holder of Israeli residency cards but are not Israeli citizens.
For decades they have complained of systematic discrimination by the city in the way it distributes municipal services, feeling as second-class citizens.
This decision does not augur a change that would be favorable to them.

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