UNRWA was set up in the years after more than 700,000 Palestinians had been expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. (File photo)
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been working together to eliminate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) without solving the issue of Palestinian refugees, French newspaper Le Monde has reported.
According to Le Monde, this process has been underway since Israel and the UAE announced normalisation between the two countries in August.
According to the report, Emirati officials are weighing up a plan to gradually eliminate UNRWA, without making it conditional on a resolution of the refugee issue. This is despite the UAE having been a major funder of UNRWA in 2018 and 2019, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to offset US President Donald Trump's halting of funds to the agency, which had brought it to the verge of bankruptcy.
The US, historically UNRWA's largest single donor, had cut its contributions from $360m to $60m in 2018 and then down further to zero for 2019.
At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Addressing the alleged plans by Israel and the UAE to eliminate UNRWA, Le Monde journalist Benjamin Barthe tweeted out part of the report, which read: "In doing so, Abu Dhabi would be rallying to a long-standing demand from Israel, which insists that the agency is obstructing peace by nurturing refugees in the dream of returning to the lands from which their parents were driven in 1948."
UNRWA was established 70 years ago to supply aid to Palestinian refugees and its mandate is renewed every three years. UNRWA says that the services it provides would otherwise not be available to Palestinians.
The agency was set up in the years after more than 700,000 Palestinians had been expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. It provides schooling and medical services to millions of impoverished refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as the Palestinian territories.