Dr. Al Hassan: Outreach we are conducting in partnership with UNRWA and under guidance from the PM is how to reconcile the humanitarian aspect with the political repercussions of cutting UNRWA funds

Prime Minister Najib Mikati called on donor countries to reconsider stopping funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), since funding constitutes an urgent and necessary need for an issue that the Palestinians did not choose, but rather was imposed on them.

He also called on donor countries “to consider the situation of UNRWA in Lebanon in an exceptional manner, because there is a Lebanese specificity that must be taken into account.” He stressed that “he will communicate with donor countries in conferences and meetings to urge them to reconsider this issue in light of its direct repercussions and effects on the overall Lebanese reality.”

The Prime Minister met with the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Dorothee Klaus, in the presence of the Chairman of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Dr. Bassel Al Hassan. After the meeting, Al-Hassan and Klaus held a joint press conference, where Al Hassan said:

“The Prime Minister has informed us of the efforts and outreach to secure funding for UNRWA in Lebanon, realigning priorities related to funding, the specificity of Lebanon in relation to funding, and the effort that will be done in this upcoming period; in order to place Lebanon on the list of priorities to protect it from any repercussions attached to the situation of UNRWA and its funding. The main point now to take into consideration are the questions asked by Lebanese and Palestinians regarding the political implications of cutting UNRWA funding.

We know very well that the main question for Lebanese and Palestinians are the political and humanitarian dimensions concerning UNRWA funds. We are here under this premise. The outreach we are conducting in cooperation with UNRWA and under guidance from the Prime Minister is how to establish a balance of sorts between the humanitarian dimension and the political repercussions of cutting funding.

We emphasize that the humanitarian implications on Palestinian refugees are greater than the political barriers. Because the issue of suggesting political headlines that constitute barriers for Lebanese, such as the issue of right to return or permanent settlement is not put forward within the context of the current position that led to ceasing funds to UNRWA. This is a broader issue connected to political demands and a sort of clash related to what happens after resumption of funding and the situation of UNRWA in this upcoming period.

Let us emphasize a main point, so that we can be on the same page in a positive way. There is the international community that does not adopt the Israeli perspective with regard to UNRWA. It is inaccurate to say that the countries that have stopped funding to UNRWA have adopted the Israeli perspective. This is an issue that’s part of the effort we’re working on, how to contribute to strengthening the perspective of the international community that opposes the Israeli perspective of ceasing funds. There are various policies and details concerning UNRWA areas of operation. With regard to Lebanon, we are working in cooperation with UNRWA, and under guidance from the Prime Minister’s office.

Thank you.”