United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 1, 2017.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 1, 2017.

The United Nations on Monday defended the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinians, after Israel's prime minister called for it to be shut down.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "is concerned about recent public criticism of UNRWA and the integrity of its operations," spokesperson Farhan Haq said. He referred to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East.

"He wishes to express his support for UNRWA and his admiration for the role it plays in delivering essential services and protecting the rights of millions of Palestine refugees across the Middle East."

Guterres also "calls on all member states to continue their support to the agency in order for UNRWA to be in a position to fulfil impartially and efficiently its essential role," Haq added.

His remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for UNRWA to be dismantled on Sunday, accusing it of incitement against the Jewish state.

Netanyahu said he raised the issue during a recent visit by Washington's UN envoy Nicky Haley, who has accused the United Nations of bias against Israel.

"I told her that the time had come for the United Nations to reconsider the continued existence of UNRWA," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying.

Israel is often criticised by the international community for targeting aid groups, particularly those that campaign for Palestinian rights.

Last year, Israel's parliament had finalised a contentious law for the strict monitoring of human rights organisations operating in Israel.

In March, it also approved a new law barring entry to foreigners who publicly support the boycott of Israel.

Source: TRT World