GOP Senator Graham: UNRWA is ‘dead’ to the United States

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, is “dead to the Congress” and “dead to the United States,” GOP Senator Lindsey Graham tells reporters in Jerusalem.

“For decades now, Palestinian children have been taught through UNRWA and other agencies to kill all the Jews,” Graham says of the agency, which is facing intense scrutiny for the involvement of some of its employees in the October 7 attacks.

“Somebody needs to pull the Palestinian school system up by its roots and destroy it,” Graham adds.

He also says that the Palestinian Authority, “as it exists today, in my view, is not a legitimate partner for the State of Israel.”

Graham says that he is hopeful that through a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Arab countries “will begin to change the Palestinian trajectory, that they will replace old and corrupt with newer leaders, that they will come up with a new governing formula for the West Bank and Gaza that Israel would have somebody to talk to about the future of the Palestinian people.”

Turning to growing tensions between the Biden White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Graham says that the situation “is not as bad as it seems.”

“I know it seems bad, but I’m there on the ground. There’s a lot of common view in the Senate that Israel has to destroy Hamas militarily,” he explains.

He says that the fight over the UN Security Council resolution earlier this week “will be behind us soon.”

“Israel cannot afford to let Hamas or anyone else know that there will be a pause in fighting for 30 seconds without the hostages being released,” he says, backing Israeli frustration over the US not using its veto.

On the desire by some Israelis to establish settlements in Gaza, Graham says that it would “not be a practical solution that would have much support anywhere.”

He argues that the best plan for the day after Hamas is to let Arab states “take ownership of the Palestinian file in a fashion to demilitarize West Bank and Gaza and to come up with a plan to deradicalize the populations.”

Asked by The Times of Israel about the potential for the White House to slow down arms deliveries to Israel to pressure it to change its policies in Gaza, Graham says that “there would be a violent reaction in the Congress if there was a whiff of any suggestion that we’re slowing down arms to Israel when it’s in a fight for its very existence.”

He says he hasn’t heard about any plans to delay or halt weapons shipments.

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