Trump cuts funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

Trump cuts funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

Trump cuts funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

UNRWA says it provides services to about 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian officials have countered that the Trump administration has come up with "nothing of substance" in trying to end the decades-old conflict despite the United States president's stated confidence of securing what he calls "the ultimate deal".

Moscow has pointed out that by ending its financial support for refugees, the U.S. isn't helping the Arab-Israeli peace process.

That's according to individuals familiar with a policy review into US funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

What did the USA do?

The US is the largest single donor to UNRWA, covering one-third-give or take-of the agency's $1.1 billion annual budget for 2017.

"The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation", Nauert said.

The U.S. announced in January that it was freezing a significant share of its UNRWA funding. The Palestinian Authority broke off contact with the U.S. after the Jerusalem announcement.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in the Friday statement that the United Nations agency's "endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years". Speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, Haley also said, "we have to look at right of return" of those classified as Palestinian refugees.

Israel's government has accused the agency of continually expanding the population of refugees - and perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - because it grants refugee status to the descendants of those displaced in the 1948 war that led to the creation of the state of Israel.

He has previously tweeted that the United States has not received "appreciation or respect" for the aid it has provided, and that the Palestinians are unwilling to negotiate with Israel.

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He said "neither the United States nor anybody else will be able to dissolve" UNRWA.

What has the reaction been?

"In the context of Israel's "Jewish nation state" law, the U.S. 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".

In Gaza, the Islamist group Hamas condemned the U.S move as a "grave escalation against the Palestinian people".

"We reject and condemn this American decision in its entirety", chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement, calling on all countries "to reject this decision and to provide all possible support" to UNRWA.

And in a major blow to the Palestinians earlier this year, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - a change long sought by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and much of the Israeli establishment.

The move overturned decades of United States neutrality on the issue and attracted global criticism.

"An immediate and capricious cut off of UNRWA funding ... risks collapsing the Palestinian Authority, empowering Hamas, and shifting the responsibility of health, education, and ultimately security services to the Israelis", Harden said.

"It is therefore all the more important that we, as the European Union, jointly undertake further efforts", Maas added, noting that UNRWA plays an important role in the stability of the region.

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