The Palestinian Authority on Monday criticized outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May for not recognizing a Palestinian state, saying the decision could prove “lethal” to peace prospects with Israel.
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy in London, commended May in a tweet for “her positions on Jerusalem, illegality of settlements & UNRWA.”
But he said her refusal to recognize Palestinian statehood “might prove lethal to the prospects of the two-state solution.”
May has stepped up financial support for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, after the United States last year cut off its roughly $300 million annual donation, with administration officials arguing the agency has run its course.
With Prime Minister Teresa May at @CMECnews annual lunch today. I commended her positions on Jerusalem, illegality of settlements & UNRWA. Her stopping short of recognising the state of Palestine might prove lethal to the prospects of the two-state solution she espouse pic.twitter.com/2JLA98AKGZ
— Husam Zomlot (@hzomlot) July 15, 2019
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee their lands in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel, and they and their descendants make up the millions of Palestinians treated by UNRWA as refugees across the Middle East.
Israel has long rejected UNRWA criteria, under which refugee status is extended not only to tens of thousands of Palestinians still alive who used to live in today’s Israel in the 1940s, but also automatically to over five million of their descendants. Officials have called for the body to be shuttered and the refugees absorbed into the body that treats all other refugees worldwide, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The US and Israel also say the agency perpetuates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by failing to try to integrate the refugees into their host countries or other countries. Israel has also charged that UNRWA schools frequently feature incitement against the Jewish state in its curriculum.
UNRWA argues it is simply providing social and educational services until a political solution is found.
May criticized US President Donald Trump last year, after the latter moved America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, upending decades of US policy and international consensus, and said Britain would not follow in his footsteps.
May will soon end her term as prime minister, after failing to arrive at an agreed Brexit deal formalizing the kingdom’s exit from the European Union.