In an unexpected departure from the international consensus in support of UNRWA — the UN body that sustains the descendants of the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 War of Independence — Switzerland’s foreign minister has stated that continued funding for the agency without the reform of its mandate is perpetuating the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
“Today [UNRWA] has become part of the problem,” Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told a group of Swiss journalists as he flew home from an official visit to Jordan on Thursday. “It provides the ammunition to continue the conflict. For as long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they want to return to their homeland.”
Cassis continued: “By supporting UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It is a perverse logic, because actually everyone wants to end the conflict.”
The foreign minister said his interest in UNRWA’s future had been triggered by the US announcement in January that it was withholding $65 million out of a $125 million aid package earmarked for the agency.