Head of the Refugee Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Ahmed Abu Houli
Israel’s recent decision to replace UNRWA's schools in Jerusalem makes part of its ongoing attempts to terminate the Agency’s services for Palestine refugees in Jerusalem, Head of the Refugee Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Ahmed Abu Houli, has said.
He said there are leaks confirming that the Israeli occupation is planning this year to dismantle UNRWA's operations in Jerusalem.
Abu Houli said that the Israeli municipality’s plan to establish an alternative school complex for the Agency's schools in occupied Jerusalem comes within the “Deal of the Century”.
The PLO official said that the agreements signed between UNRWA and Israel legally prohibit such moves: “We are on the verge of a legal battle to thwart all of these plans”.
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 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.
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.