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November 1, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9618

Palestinian Authority Minister And PLO Executive Committee Member Majdalani: UNRWA Is The Political Symbol Of The Right Of Return

November 1, 2021
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 9618

In a recent meeting with UNRWA Commissioner Philippe Lazzarini, Palestinian Minister of Social Development Ahmed Majdalani, who is also a member of the PLO Executive Committee, described the Palestinians' efforts to ensure UNRWA's continued existence, while stressing that it is not just an institution assisting the Palestinian refugees but "a political symbol of the right of return."


Majdalani (left) with Lazzarini (Source: Alquds.com, October 27, 2021)

The following are translated excerpts from a report on the meeting and on Majdalani's statements in it, posted October 27 on the website of the Palestinian daily Al-Quds: [1]

"Dr. Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and secretary-general of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, stressed the endeavor to ensure the [continued existence] of the [UN] Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, not as an institution that provides services to the Palestinian refugees, but as a political symbol of the refugees' right of return. In his Wednesday meeting in his office with UNRWA Commissioner Philippe Lazzarini, Dr. Majdalani added: 'We will discuss with all the friendly countries [the topic of] meeting [their] commitments and increasing the financial contributions, and all the ways to raise the level of cooperation and coordination, so as to overcome the financial crisis the agency is experiencing.

"Underscoring that UNRWA is the main political symbol of the refugees' right of return and right of self-determination, Majdalani stated: 'We will support [UNRWA's] survival and continued activity despite the difficult condition of the Palestinian  cause.' He noted the importance of convening the agency's donors, and said that the international community is responsible for helping [UNRWA], so as to enable it to deliver services to the refugees in its areas of operation. [He added] that the ongoing incitement campaign of the occupation [i.e., Israel] requires completing the [provision of] international support to UNRWA.

"Majdalani reiterated the opposition to the framework agreement  between the U.S. and UNRWA,[2] which is perceived as replacing the source of authority for the agency, which was established by UNGA Resolution 302. [This agreement] sets out political terms enabling American intervention in the activity of UNRWA, which is a UN agency, and [intervention] in the aid delivered to the Palestinian refugees. 'We believe that [the agreement] contains dangerous elements that are aimed against the refugees' cause, elements that threaten this cause with the purpose of destroying and eliminating it. It also redefines the status of refugee, which the PLO regards as dangerous,' [Majdalani said]…"

 

[1] Al-Quds (East Jerusalem), October 27, 2021.

[2] In July 2021, UNRWA and the U.S. signed a Framework for Cooperation agreement, ahead of the renewal of American contributions to UNRWA, which were suspended in 2018 by the Trump administration. The agreement charges UNRWA to ensure that the  funding provided by the U.S. is not used to support terror; condemn without reserve all incitement to violence; maintain neutrality, and prevent its staff from engaging in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature. See https://www.state.gov/2021-2022-u-s-unrwa-framework-for-cooperation/.    

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