As recently as January of this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was blasting the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees, as one of the primary obstacles to peace.
"UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees. It also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return’ with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and therefore UNRWA must disappear," Netanyahu told his Cabinet at the time.
For the first time ever, Netanyahu has found the American government a firm ally in facing down UNRWA and the Palestinian culture of hate that it helps foster.
White House Advisor and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has recently been working to ascertain how many genuine Palestinian refugees there really are in the world today.
The United Nations typically defines a refugee as a person displaced from his or her homeland. But, in the case of the Palestinians, an exception has been made to allow this status to become hereditary, meaning that the original 650,000 or so Palestinian refugees have today become millions.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, Kushner recently told White House officials that the game UNRWA is playing with Palestinian refugees is making a viable peace agreement difficult, if not impossible.
Back in June, Kushner visited Jordan and was said to have asked the Hashemite Kingdom to strip local Palestinians of their refugee status. It was seen as a first step toward eliminating the need for UNRWA altogether.
With the Trump Administration taking such concrete steps against UNRWA, an odd thing has happened–the Netanyahu government has reportedly back-tracked from the prime minister's earlier remarks and is now urging the US to not bring about the agency's collapse.
Officials who spoke to the daily newspaper Israel Hayom said that the Netanyahu government has quietly requested that Trump not cut funding to UNRWA at this time over fears that such a move could spark fresh violence in the Gaza Strip.