World

USA to end all funding for UNRWA which supports Palestinian ‘refugees’

USA to end all funding for UNRWA which supports Palestinian ‘refugees’

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump's administration will make an announcement within the next several weeks that the USA is halting all financial support for UNRWA, the United Nations agency created to serve Palestinian interests.

UNRWA has faced a cash crisis since the United States, long its biggest donor, earlier this year slashed funding, saying the agency needed to make unspecified reforms and calling on the Palestinians to renew peace talks with Israel.

UNRWA now looks after more than 5 million people in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA's costs that we had assumed for many years", Nauert said in the statement.

The US, which roughly provided one-third of UNRWA's budget, suspended $65 million of the $125 million in aid it planned to contribute to the program back in January.

Nauert said the agency's "endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years".

A formal announcement with respect to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA, is expected in the next few weeks.

Last Friday, the State Department announced the USA was cutting more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

The shake-up is part of the Trump administration's bid to cut its spending overseas, and as the White House drafts its Middle East peace plan. "It is the failure of the political parties to resolve the refugee situation which perpetuates the continued existence of UNRWA".

The "right of return" is one of the key core issues of dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The administration has remained critical of UNRWA, with Trump senior Jared Kushner writing in an email in January, "It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA, ..."

The American Center for Law and Justice explained that Trump had promised to cut funding "to the terrorist affiliated Palestinian Authority as long as they continued to reward the families of terrorists". She called on Middle East nations to increase aid.

Journalist Muhannad Alami has the latest from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

But Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, called it "a win for USA taxpayers and peace" that would make Palestinians more self-sufficient and prepare them "for a true peace with Israel".

"We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA's schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs are 'irredeemably flawed, '" said spokesman Chris Gunness in a statement, noting the plaudits UNRWA has received for its work from other countries and global organizations.


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