UNRWA school in Jerusalem. Photo credit: Reuters
Israel’s Jerusalem Municipal Council approved Tuesday night a plan to construct an educational campus for Education Ministry schools near the city's Arab Shuafat and Anata neighborhoods, replacing those established by the UN Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).
Israeli news sources said these schools will be an alternative to the UNRWA schools which are currently operative in the area and where hundreds of Palestinian schoolchildren attend classes.
The project will cost 7.1 million NIS ($2,055,617), and will be located in an area outside the pre-1967 borders but within Jerusalem's municipal borders.
Israel’s Jerusalem Council Member Aryeh King thanked Mayor Moshe Lion for advancing the project, which seeks to deminish UNRWA's presence in the city.
"We're not talking, we're acting," King wrote on Facebook. "While the previous mayor, Nir Barkat, published press releases for years about his plans to reduce UNWRA's influence and involvement in eastern Jerusalem, the current mayor, Moshe Lion, passed last night a decision of unprecedented importance. I salute you, Mayor."
As part of its activities in Jerusalem, UNRWA operates several schools at which hundreds of Palestinian refugee children are enrolled.
UNRWA delivers services and maintain facilities in East Jerusalem since 1950 under its General Assembly mandate. This mandate includes East Jerusalem as part of its operational area.
The Israeli authorities do not have recognized legitimacy to challenge the basis on which the Agency maintains and operates premises in East Jerusalem. Israel is a party to the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations which safeguards the UN’s ability to fulfill its functions free from interference.
Furthermore, there is a bilateral agreement between UNRWA and Israel which obligates Israel to protect the Agency’s installations in areas under its authority and to facilitate UNRWA tasks to the best of its ability, among other obligations.