TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is pushing to get rid of the refugee status of millions of Palestinians as well as shut down the United Nations agency for so-called Palestinian refugees, which he said was “corrupt” and “unhelpful” for the peace process, according to emails written by Kushner and other members of the peace team that were obtained by Foreign Policy magazine.
The U.S. has suspended millions of dollars in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, in recent months, over the Palestinian Authority’s continued boycott of the Trump administration.
“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in an email dated January 11, a few days before the U.S. froze $65 million in funding for UNRWA. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are… Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there,” he added in the email.
While the agency is said to minister to 5.1 million, the numbers are unclear, with conflicting statistics regarding the Palestinian diaspora. Palestinian “refugees” are the only refugees in the world that pass that status onto their descendants in perpetuity.
Another email written by adviser to Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt suggested closing UNRWA as part of a peace deal.
“UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019,” wrote Victoria Coates.
She noted that the proposition was one of a number of “spitball ideas that I’ve had that are also informed by some thoughts I’ve picked up from Jared, Jason and [UN envoy] Nikki [Haley]”
Other proposals included a suggestion that the UN agency be asked to operate on a monthly budget and come up with “a plan to remove all anti-Semitism from educational materials.”
UNRWA has also come under fire on many occasions for spreading anti-Semitic hate in its schools and employing members of terror organizations and supporters of terror. In February, UN Watch released a 130-page report exposing 40 UNRWA school employees in Gaza and elsewhere who engaged in incitement to terror against Israelis and expressed “anti-Semitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”
That month the agency also announced the suspension of an UNRWA employee suspected of having been elected as a Hamas leader.
According to Palestinian officials, Kushner and Greenblatt also asked Jordan to get rid of refugee status of the 2 million Palestinians living there so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate there.
“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” said Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi, according to Foreign Policy.
“They want to take a really irresponsible, dangerous decision and the whole region will suffer,” she added, claiming the U.S. would give the money to Jordan instead.
The UN itself released a report in 2015 that found Palestinian terror groups used three empty UN-run schools in Gaza as a weapons cache. Moreover, it said that in at least two cases terrorists “probably” fired rockets at Israel from the schools during the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.
In January, Trump slammed the PA over its refusal to deal with the US, saying his administration should not continue to give “massive payments” to the Palestinians when they are “no longer willing to talk peace.”
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted. “They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.”