Israel welcomes U.S. decision over UN Palestinian agency

Trump Admin Ending UN Aid To Palestinian Refugees

Trump Admin Ending UN Aid To Palestinian Refugees

The Trump administration announced on Friday it would cease all funding of an agency that provides services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees.

Yesterday, Washington, which until a year ago was by far the agency's biggest contributor announced it was ending funding to the "irredeemably flawed operation".

In 2016, the U.S. donated $355m (£275m) to the UNRWA, which provides healthcare, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and it was set to make a similar contribution this year.

The Middle East Forum said the USA taxpayer contributed $364 million in 2017, about one-third of the total UNRWA budget, nearly triple the European Union contribution and by far the most from any single UNRWA donor.

This latest report follows last week's announcement by the US State Department that it will cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinian Authority.

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In her statement, Nauert said that the UNWRA's business model and fundamental practices were "unsustainable".

FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest against possible reductions of the services and aid offered by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City August 16, 2015.

The agency was founded in 1949 after the first Arab-Israeli war, in the wake of the exodus of around 700,000 refugees who fled or were driven out of Israel on its founding as a state.

The Times of Israel reported that "Jordan said Thursday it would host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in NY next month to keep UNRWA afloat".

The U.S. announced in January that it was freezing a significant share of its UNRWA funding.

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"By endorsing the most extreme Israeli narrative on all issues including the rights of more than five million Palestinian refugees, the U.S. administration has lost its status as peacemaker and is damaging not only an already volatile situation but the prospects for future peace", Zomlot said in a statement to AFP.

"In the context of Israel's "Jewish nation state" law, the USA recognition of Jerusalem, and moves towards annexation of West Bank territory", White wrote, "those seeking the elimination of UNRWA envisage its demise to be a crucial part of the consolidation of an apartheid, single state, and the defeat of the Palestinian struggle".

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Trump plans to end all USA funding for UNRWA, while the number of Palestinians to be recognized as refugees is to be drastically reduced. The Palestinian Authority broke off contact with the U.S. after the Jerusalem announcement.

UNRWA responded by stating that its "programs have a proven track record in creating one of the most successful human development processes ... in the Middle East".

In Gaza, the group Hamas also condemned the United States move as a "grave escalation against the Palestinian people".

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov following their meeting in Moscow, May 10, 2018. He said the Palestinian leadership was considering appealing to the U.N. Security Council to confront the American stance.

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