Ma'an News Agency
December 9, 2011 - 1:00am

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israel's deputy foreign minister accused the UN agency for Palestinian refugees of perpetuating Palestine's conflict with Israel, in a speech at the UN refugee headquarters in Geneva on Thursday, Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported.

Calling UNRWA "morally and politically unacceptable," Danny Ayalon said the UN applied double standards by not resettling Palestinian refugees through its central body for refugees, UNCHR, and creating the separate Palestinian refugee agency.

"This has meant that a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians remains further away," the report quoted Ayalon saying at the 60th anniversary celebration of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

The UN Relief and Works Agency was set up in the wake of the 1948 war and founding of the Israeli state, when estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homes.

It provides services to some 5 million refugees, with the UN General Assembly renewing its mandate until a political solution is reached.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness says that questioning the longevity of the organization "serve(s) only to distract from the need to address the real reasons for the protracted Palestinian refugee situation, namely the absence of negotiated solution to the underlying political issues.

"Palestine refugees are entitled to a just and lasting solution to their plight," he told Ma'an in an interview in June.

"In the absence of -- and pending the realization of -- such a solution, it stands to reason that their status as refugees will remain."


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