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PLO praises EU for rejecting bill against PA terror education, and for aiding UNRWA, which will support refugees “until they return to their homes”

Headline: “The PLO praised the European Parliament’s decisions supporting our people”

“PLO Executive Committee member and Head of the [PLO] Department of Refugee Affairs Dr. Ahmad Abu Houli praised the European Parliament’s vote by an overwhelming majority against the proposal to reduce the European aid to the Palestinian [PA] education system (refers to a bill to amend the EU budget due to the incitement and glorification of terror in PA schools –Ed.), and also the courage of another decision that calls to provide additional European aid to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) in the amount of 22 million euros for this year…

Abu Houli said that the decision calling to provide additional European aid to UNRWA in the amount of 22 million euros reflects the seriousness of the European position that is committed to providing ongoing support to UNRWA’s activity, to enable it to get out of the financial crisis that was caused due to the end of the American aid (see note below –Ed.), and to strengthen its capabilities to provide services to approximately 5.9 million Palestinian refugees until they return to their homes from which they were expelled, according to [UN] Resolution 194.”

The European Parliament Budgetary Committee approved an amendment to the European Union's 2019 budget on Sept. 25, 2018, which would have had the EU suspend 5% of its economic aid to the PA until the PA "has committed to reform its school curriculum and textbooks to bring them in line with UNESCO standards for peace and tolerance in school education." The bill further stated that the new PA schoolbooks "contain, across all subjects, numerous examples of violent depictions, hate speech — in particular against Israel – and glorifications of jihad and martyrdom." The bill was rejected by the European Parliament in a plenum vote on Oct. 24, 2018.

US President Donald Trump's administration announced on Aug. 31, 2018 that it was immediately cutting all $360 million of annual American funding to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Explaining the decision, the US State Department said, "The fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation."

The move came after the US froze two planned payments to UNRWA in early January 2018 for more than $100 million, and the US administration spoke about the need to reexamine and conduct a reform of the UN body. This occurred after the PA refused to negotiate with Israel and cut diplomatic ties with America following US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Dec. 6, 2017.

UN Resolution 194 (Chapter 11, Dec. 11, 1948) states that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return." Palestinian leaders argue this means that all Arabs who left Israel during the war (hundreds of thousands) and their descendants (a few million) have a "right of return" to Israel. Israel argues that the resolution only calls for a limited return and only under certain conditions, especially focusing on the words "wishing to return... and live at peace with their neighbors."

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