Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, has reportedly pressured Jordan to remove the refugee status of millions of Palestinians in a bid to disrupt the U.N. relief agency's work.
The American magazine Foreign Policy obtained emails written by Kushner to senior U.S. officials, in which he blasted the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
One of those emails was dated January 11, five days before the Trump administration withheld $65 million of a $125 million aid installment to the U.N. agency.
“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in the email. “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.
The report quoted Palestinian officials as saying that Kushner had pressed Jordan to strip its more than 2 million registered Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate in the Middle Eastern country.
He raised the issue with Jordanian officials during a visit to the region in June, along with US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. The U.S. officials discussed the so-called peace plan meant to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with officials in the occupied territories, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar. They, however, did not meet with Palestinian authorities during their regional tour.
Hasan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee, said that Kushner's initiative for Palestinian refugees was part of a broader push by the US to render UNRWA irrelevant and halt its work in Jordan and in other regional countries.
“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” she said.
The Trump administration wants rich Persian Gulf Arab states to cover the costs Jordan might incur in the process, she said, warning that it is "a really irresponsible, dangerous decision and the whole region will suffer."
Additionally, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said after Kushner's visit to Jordan that the U.S. official's delegation had expressed its readiness to stop funding UNRWA altogether and instead direct the money—$300 million annually—to Jordan and other countries that host Palestinian refugees.
“All this is actually aimed at liquidating the issue of the Palestinian refugees,” Erekat said.
'U.S. after taking Palestinian refugee issue off negotiations table'
Meanwhile, the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that revelations about Kushner's latest attempts proved the U.S. administration's plot to take the Palestinian refugee issue off the negotiations table.
It also reiterated that Trump' much-touted "deal of the century" is aimed at depriving the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights.
The Palestinian people and their leadership remain firm on their call for statehood and the issue of refugees, the statement added.
The U.S.-Palestine ties deteriorated last December when Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and announced plans to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
The contentious move led Abbas to formally declare that Palestinians would no longer accept the U.S. as a mediator to resolve the conflict because Washington was “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.
The U.S. embassy relocation took place on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), sparking deadly clashes in Gaza.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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