In this Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 photo, the head of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Kraehenbuehl speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem. Kraehenbuehl said Thursday that he believes the U.S. slashed his budget early this year to take out its frustration with the Palestinian Authority but warns that the millions of people served by his organization cannot be wished away. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

UN official: Palestinian refugee issue can't be wished away

August 24, 2018 - 1:14 am

JERUSALEM (AP) — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says the United States slashed his budget early this year to punish the Palestinians for their criticism of America's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

He warns the Palestinian refugee issue won't go away.

Pierre Kraehenbuehl's comments come amid signs that the U.S., with Israeli support, is aiming to abolish UNRWA in an apparent attempt to remove one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the negotiating agenda.

Kraehenbuehl, commissioner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, told The Associated Press that "one cannot simply wish 5 million people away."

In January, the U.S., the largest donor to the agency, slashed some $300 million from its annual contribution to UNRWA, prompting what Kraehenbuehl called an unprecedented financial crisis.

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