U.N. Agency Vows to Maintain Yerushalayim Service

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees is vowing to continue operations in Yerushalayim despite Israeli plans to remove it.

The Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, said over the weekend that education, health care and other services to Palestinian residents of eastern Yerushalayim are “important work.”

On Thursday, Mayor Nir Barkat said Israeli authorities will take over UNRWA’s services, most notably schooling for 1,800 students, without giving an exact timeline.

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.