By Wassim Seifeddine
BEIRUT (AA) – Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Monday that the U.S. decision to cut funding for the UN refugee agency UNRWA was the beginning to settle Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Speaking to reporters during his flight from Lebanon to France, Aoun said he will discuss the UNRWA issue during his visit to the European Parliament.
“This issue could form the start for settling (refugees in Lebanon), which is banned by the Lebanese Constitution and rejected by the Lebanese people,” he said.
Aoun arrived in Strasbourg on Monday for a three-day visit upon an invitation by Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament.
During the visit, Aoun will discuss relations between Lebanon and the EU as well as a host of regional and international issues.
Last month, the U.S. State Department said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the UNRWA.
The U.S. had been UNRWA's largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly a quarter of the agency's overall budget.
Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.