Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thrown his support behind the US decision to pull funding from the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), accusing the aid group of inflating the number of refugees it assists.
Speaking at Yad Binyamin on Sunday, Netanyahu said UNRWA is “perpetuating” the plight of refugees and that by pulling funding, the US is “finally beginning to solve the problem.”
“It is a very important thing,” Netanyahu said. “We have to cancel the refugee institution, we have to take the money and really help to rehabilitate the refugees, whose real number is only a tiny fraction of the number reported by UNRWA.”
READ MORE: US stops funding to Palestinian refugee agency due to ‘irredeemably flawed operation’
The US government announced on Friday that it deemed UNWRA to be “irredeemably flawed,” and would therefore withdraw all financial backing for the refugee group. In 2016, the US contributed US$355 million to UNWRA. Earlier this year, it released $60 million of its allocated funding for 2018, prior to announcing the cuts.
Other governments have responded to the US decision with disapproval, with the European Union calling it “regrettable.”
“The regrettable decision of the US to no longer be part of this international and multilateral effort leaves a substantial gap and we hope that the US can reconsider their decision,” the EU wrote in a statement on Saturday.
Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, didn’t mince words when responding to the US move, calling Washington’s decision “heartless and dangerous.”
READ MORE: Jordan warns of ‘dangerous consequences’ after Palestinian refugee agency gets US funding cut
Germany also responded to the move, with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas saying it is “currently preparing to provide an additional amount of significant funds” to UNRWA, as losing the agency could “unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction.”
Jordan’s government also chimed in, with Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi saying his country will rally for support of the agency. “Disruption of UNRWA services will have extremely dangerous humanitarian, political and security implications for refugees and for the whole region,” he told Reuters.
Some people took to Twitter to denounce Netanyahu’s declaration of US support, with many accusing the Israeli prime minister of being part of the problem. One user said the “consequences of [pulling UNWRA funding] will be devastating,” while another suggested that the canceled funds were the work of “monstrous policies.”
Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the reasons why UNRWA is still needed today. Let me get this straight, Israel creates the refugees, displaces them, steals their property and statehood, subjects them to war crimes and then it wants us to believe it cares about their rehabilitation 🙄 https://t.co/oJoqfwKSiP
— Sabeen Syed (@SabeenGeopol) September 2, 2018
#UNRWA: How much more can you ask from the people suffering and having no rights? Such a level of imbalance won’t be tolerable for long. I fear the MM. Trump and Netanyahu will only have to regret their choice as this will stir compassion like never before. Monstrous policies.
— Melissa Chemam (@melissachemam) September 2, 2018
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