(JTA) — White House senior adviser Jared Kushner called for “an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” the agency providing relief to millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, in an internal email.
The email, dated Jan. 11, also was sent to several other senior officials, including President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, Foreign Policy reported.
“This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” Kushner, who also is Trump’s son-in-law, wrote.
Foreign Policy did not quote prescriptions advanced by Kushner to do away with the U.N. relief agency.
“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are. … Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there,” Kushner also said in the email, according to the report.
There have been calls from the right wing in Israel and the United States to dismantle the agency and fold its work into existing U.N. refugee structures. Others have argued that host countries should absorb the Palestinians as citizens.
Critics of the agency note that it grants refugee status not just to those who fled Mandatory Palestine 70 years ago but to their descendants as well, which now number about 5 million.
The Palestinians have called repeatedly for a right of return to Israel under any negotiated peace deal.
In January, the State Department said it would cut the first $125 million installment of its annual payment to UNRWA by more than half, to $60 million.
“UNRWA has been threatening us for six months that if they don’t get a check they will close schools. Nothing has happened,” Kushner wrote in the same email, according to Foreign Policy.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R- Colo., introduced a bill last week that would limit the United States to assisting only the original refugees. The savings in U.N. contributions would be directed to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the main international development agency of the U.S.
USAID, however, is constrained by the Taylor Force Act, which limits providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends its policy of providing aid to families of fallen or jailed terrorists.