Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN David Roet. (UN/Amanda Voisard) (UN/Amanda Voisard)

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Israel’s Deputy Representative to the UN Ambassador David Roet charged the organization with undermining the peace process and damaging the future of the Palestinians.

UNRWA representative denies Israel's right to exist

UNRWA representatives show off map of “Palestine.” (Palestinian Media Watch)

On the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), UN officials bemoaned what they describe as the continued suffering of Palestinian refugees, which they attribute to the lack of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s Deputy Representative to the UN David Roet, however, criticized UNRWA for undermining the peace process while ignoring the plight of Palestinian refugees in Arab countries.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the conference that UNRWA still “exists because of political failure,” and he called for an end to unilateral actions that “erode trust.” The Palestinian Authority last year approached the UN Security Council for recognition, in violation of its commitment to seek statehood only through peace negotiations with Israel.

Roet slammed UNRWA for indoctrinating refugee children with the Palestinian narrative of a right of return and allowing UNRWA facilities to be used by Hamas to attack Israeli civilians. He expressed outrage that UNRWA was cutting its humanitarian budget in order to propagandize on behalf of the Palestinians.

Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus has been nearly depopulated. (AP/UNRWA)

Roet asked why UNRWA was working “to validate the Palestinian narrative,” including carrying out “massive media campaigns,” while ignoring the suffering of refugees in Arab countries. “The Middle East today is in a state of turmoil…. Palestinian refugees in [Syria and Lebanon] are caught in the chaos,” he said. “In light of the real needs of the refugees, it is troubling that UNRWA would focus its resources on political campaigns, even as it cuts humanitarian assistance. Such campaigns only serve to support the Palestinian political agenda and distance us from achieving peace.”

“From an early age, Palestinian children are taught that the only solution to their plight is the so-called ‘Claim of Return.’ Many UNRWA facilities are decorated with keys, symbolizing this claim of return,” the ambassador noted. “The ‘claim of return,’ make no mistake, is a euphemism for the destruction of the State of Israel. This ‘claim’ is the real obstacle to the two-state solution, to which Israel and so many of us in this room are fully committed.”

He pointed to the failure of UNRWA to act impartially in carrying out its mandate, accusing Israel of misbehavior while turning a blind eye to acts of terror by Hamas. “UNRWA had over 10,000 employees in Gaza – most of them Palestinian, but also many internationals. Where were they when Hamas stockpiled thousands of rockets, many of them in close vicinity to UNRWA facilities? It seems that while they are quick to condemn Israel, when it comes to reporting on Hamas, UNRWA’s employees become blind, deaf and mute.”

A UNRWA warehouse bombed by Hamas

A rocket fired from Gaza falls short and crashes into UNRWA warehouses. (IDF)

A recent UN report confirms that Hamas used UNRWA schools during Operation Protective Edge to store weapons and, on multiple occasions, to fire into Israel.

UNRWA was founded in 1950 in order to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees who fled Israel during the War of Independence, many at the urging of Arab governments or propelled by false rumors of Jewish violence. With the exception of Jordan, the Arab countries that took them in have refused to provide them with citizenship and keep them confined to refugee camps. Palestinian citizens of Jordan are also denied many privileges, including access to jobs in the government and military.

The number of Palestinian refugees has been vastly inflated by the fact that refugee status is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to every other refugee population in the world.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel

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