Yerushalayim to Remove UNRWA From City

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

Yerushalayim’s mayor said Thursday he plans to remove a U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees from the city, accusing the body of operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel.

Nir Barkat said schools, clinics and sports centers, among other services operated by UNRWA in east Yerushalayim, will be transferred to Israeli authorities. The municipality did not provide an exact timeline but it said schools serving 1,800 students would be closed by the end of the current school year.

Barkat, who is set to step down following municipal elections at the end of the month, said the U.S. decision to cut $300 million in aid to the agency earlier this year prompted the move.

“The U.S. decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with services of the Jerusalem Municipality. We are putting an end to the lie of the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty,” Barkat said in a statement, charging that the schools and clinics were illegal and operate without an Israeli license.

The municipality said the move was coordinated with the Israeli government.

UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.