Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday insisted on the disbanding of the United Nations' agency that supports millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, days after U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Earlier this month, the agency discovered a tunnel running underneath one of its centres and reported this, condemning Hamas.
Speaking during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he told U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley during a meeting last week "that the time has come for the United Nations to reconsider the continued existence on UNRWA".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed in a cabinet meeting on Sunday that he told the USA ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley that it was "time to disband" the UN's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) after a tunnel was discovered under two of its Gaza schools last week. "The sanctity and neutrality of United Nations premises must be preserved at all times", the organization said in a statement.
Rishq said Netanyahu's call to dismantle UNRWA was "part of the Israeli plan to eliminate the Palestinian refugee problem once and for all".
Chris Gunness, UNRWA's chief spokesman, said in an email to Reuters that only the General Assembly, by a majority vote, could change the agency's mandate.
He said that while millions of other refugees around the world were cared for by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only the Palestinians have their own body. Israeli leaders complained to the United Nations, also blaming Hamas, which has denied responsibility.
"The latest finding verifies once again that the Hamas cruelty knows no limits including endangering centres of education and using children as human shields", Danon said.
UNRWA's Guinness said the agency had "robustly intervened and protested to Hamas in Gaza".
Gunness said that the tunnel "has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way".
In a letter to the president of the Security Council, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon demanded that "this time, the global community must not turn a blind eye toward such cynical exploitation" of civilian infrastructure in Gaza by Hamas.
The Islamic militant group has fought three wars since seizing Gaza from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. In February, allegations emerged that an UNRWA employee had been elected to the Hamas political leadership.