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Lazzarini Claims That Israel Has a Campaign to Destroy UNRWA

The head of the UN’s Works and Relief Agency Phillipe Lazzarini charged yesterday that Israel is intent on “destroying” the organization, along with the idea that Palestinians are refugees and have a right to return home one day. He accused Israel, in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, as reported by the AP, of having a “long-term political goal” of eliminating the U.N. aid agency he leads. “At the moment, we are dealing with an expanded, concentrated Israeli campaign, which is aimed at destroying UNRWA.” He added that Israel apparently believes that “if the aid agency is abolished, the status of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved once and for all—and with it the right of return.”

In his interview, he said Israel’s government has applied pressure in multiple ways in what he called its attempt to destroy the agency. “The Israeli parliament, for example, has introduced a bill to ban the UNRWA headquarters from Jerusalem. They no longer want to exempt UNRWA from VAT (value-added tax) in the future. Israeli authorities have ordered contractors at the port in Ashdod to stop handling certain food deliveries for UNRWA. And all these demands come from the government.”