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. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
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The comments by Pierre Kraehenbuehl came 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.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.The Palestinians fear the U.S. is putting pressure on host countries to absorb their refugee populations and eliminate the issue from future peace negotiations.While seen by the Palestinians and most of the international community as providing a valuable safety net, UNRWA is viewed far differently by Israel.Kraehenbuehl said that Israeli claims that the Palestinians are the only people to pass down refugee status to their children also are unfounded, saying that Afghan refugees displaced decades ago have the same status.Kraehenbuehl said the best way to solve these matters is to find a "political solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that addresses the fate of the refugees.
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