Palestinian children hold balloons near the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Image Credit: AP

Dubai - The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has denied on Sunday receiving an official communique regarding the Israeli intention to close its schools in the occupied city of Jerusalem.

In a statement, UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha said: "UNRWA has not received any official statement notifying the agency of Israeli intentions to close schools in occupied East Jerusalem”. He added: “Under the mandate of the General Assembly, we will continue to operate in the city."

He explained that the presence of UNRWA in East Jerusalem falls under UN General Assembly resolution, and that there are bilateral agreements binding the Israeli side to respect the agency’s presence in Jerusalem.

On Saturday, Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discussing plans behind closed doors to remove UNRWA institutions from Jerusalem and replace them with municipal schools.

In October, the agency expressed concerns after Jerusalem’s Israeli mayor said he is planning to remove UNRWA from the city and replace its services with municipal services.

UNRWA runs schools and health centers in East Jerusalem’s Shafaat refugee camp, which has about 24,000 Palestinians living there.