19 June 2020

The UNWRA has a unique mandate to support Palestinian refugees until a lasting political settlement is reached, and until then, the UK is clear it will continue to meet humanitarian need and promote regional security by supporting the 5.6 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. 

The UK's contribution to the UNRWA last year helped provide education to more than 533,000 children, half of whom were girls and health services for around 3.1 million Palestinian refugees. While I appreciate concerns around the UNRWA, I believe that we cannot afford to lose the progress made, or risk young people, especially girls, losing the opportunity to have an education at all.

I am concerned about the allegations of incitement in the Palestinian Authority’s school textbooks. Both the PA and the Government of Israel need to prepare their populations for peaceful coexistence, including by promoting a more positive portrayal of each other. I welcome that the UK lobbied, and funded work to develop the methodology, for an in-depth review of school textbooks, and this review is now underway.

More broadly, I am told that UK officials are in regular contact with the UNRWA to ensure high quality aid delivery. I am encouraged that they judge that UNRWA is effective in allocating resources on the basis of need however I appreciate your concerns about the performance of the UNRWA and have raised these with Ministers at DFID.

Ultimately, there needs to be a just, fair, agreed, and realistic solution to the Palestinian refugee question as part of a negotiated peace agreement. The UK is committed to a two-state solution to provide the long-term answer for Palestinian refugees.