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Barkat on the removal of UNRWA from Jerusalem: their schools teach terrorism.(Photo by: JERUSALEM MUNICIPALITY)
Barkat on UNRWA in East Jerusalem: Their schools teach terrorism
Palestinians represent 40% of students in Jerusalem, but due to the chronic shortage of classrooms in the municipal education system, only 41% of Palestinians students are enrolled in city schools.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called for the removal of UNRWA  from Jerusalem, claiming that the agency’s schools incite terrorism.

“UNRWA strengthens terrorism,” Barkat said in a Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday. “I am revealing here a textbook, taught in their schools, that praises the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for the bloody bus attack in Herzliya that murdered 38 civilians.”

“This is what the children of Jerusalem are being taught under their care — terrorism,” Barkat added. “And this must stop.”

Of the 218 schools in east Jerusalem, 7 are funded by UNRWA, according to data presented in a 2018 United Nations Development Program  (UNDP/PAPP) report.

Palestinians students represent 40% of all students in Jerusalem, “but due to the chronic shortage of classrooms in the municipal education system, only 41% of Palestinians students are enrolled in the official system,” the report said.

A second study conducted by Birzeit University in 2013 indicated that some families avoid enrolling their children in municipal schools that are perceived as promoting political agendas.

Overall, today UNRWA serves more than five million Palestinian refugees, including over 800,000 in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“The time has come to replace UNRWA’s poor education, welfare, health and sanitation services with the municipality’s,” Barkat said. “US President Trump’s decision to cut support to UNRWA created a widow of opportunity for implementing a plan and putting an end to this historical distortion.”

In August, the Trump administration cut all funding to UNRWA, questioning the organization's "fundamental business model" of serving an "endlessly and exponentially expanding community" of declared Palestinian refugees.

“The time has come to stop this lie about refugees in Jerusalem,” Barkat said. “They are not refugees, but residents who need to receive services from the municipality like any other resident. Money is not an excuse. It costs us two percent of the city’s total budged.”

Attorney Oshrat Maimon, director of policy advocacy at the NGO Ir Amim, stated at the meeting that “the municipality declared that it plans to build 2,400 classrooms in the next five years, but we found that there are only 800 construction plans. Every year, 13% of East Jerusalem students drop out and 33% of east Jerusalem children do not complete 12 years of schooling. The reason is classroom shortage.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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