The Arab League (AL) warned on Tuesday against the continuous Israeli attempts and plans to liquidate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which, along with the international commitment to the issue of Palestinian refugees, constitute a factor of security and stability in the region.
Said Abu Ali — Assistant Secretary-General of the League — expressed in a statement the league’s absolute rejection of any suggestions or attempts to undermine the responsibility of the UNRWA and its full political and humanitarian competences towards the Palestinian refugee community, regardless of their interpretation or justification based on the original mandate given to the agency in order to find a just solution to the refugee issue in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy.
“Commenting on the proposals regarding the powers and competences of UNRWA and the continuation of its responsibilities, Abu Ali stressed the importance of the decision to establish the agency as a political symbol of international commitment to the refugee issue, which is the core of the Palestinian cause,” Abu Ali said.
He stressed that preserving the role of the UNRWA is the concern of all Arab countries — especially host countries — as it enables it to carry out its duties and functions without any decrease in its five areas of operation.
For its part, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee called on UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini to reverse his recent positions on the possibility of transferring UNRWA services to other international institutions.
In a statement, the committee considered these statements a clear contradiction with International Resolution 302, which established the agency and the mandate that determines the functions and responsibilities assigned to it, which combines the humanitarian and political dimensions.
The PLO also stressed the need to continue its work until the Palestinian refugee crisis is resolved in accordance with Resolution 194, which guarantees the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties which they were displaced from in 1948.
It also emphasised its rejection of any interference with the functions and services of the agency as well as its absolute refusal to search for any suspicious solutions under the pretext of financial difficulties and lack of funding with the aim of bringing about a change in the political and legal status of the Palestinian refugees served by the agency and its continued role in accordance with Resolution 302.
Furthermore, the PLO stressed that the current financial difficulties required Lazzarini to undertake extraordinary efforts to provide funding to continue the Agency’s services at the level and quality needed to meet the needs of the refugees.
This is done by demanding that the UN and donor countries fulfil their obligations and adopt a firm budget for the agency, as is the case with other UN organisations.
The Advisory Committee of the UNRWA, which is scheduled to meet next June in Beirut, called for finding suitable solutions to overcome the financial deficit, strengthen the role and responsibilities of the agency, and confront any deviation from its mandate.