Biden gives another $135M to UN Palestinian refugee agency

This support “demonstrates we once again have an ongoing partner in the United States,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced Saturday that the United States is contributing an additional $135.8 million to the agency, bringing the total U.S. contribution to $318.8 million since the beginning of the year.

On July 14, the U.S. and UNRWA signed a 2021-2022 Framework for Cooperation, which the State Department said includes multiple specific commitments to advance UNRWA’s ability to “deliver effective and efficient aid to Palestinian refugees through strengthened accountability, transparency, and consistency with UN principles, including neutrality.”

“The signing of the U.S.-UNRWA Framework and additional support demonstrates we once again have an ongoing partner in the United States that understands the need to provide critical assistance to some of the region’s most vulnerable refugees,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

Like the 2018-2019 Framework, which was signed before the Trump administration cut funding to the agency, the 2021-2022 Framework states, “UNRWA commits to take all possible measures to ensure funding provided by the United States to UNRWA does not provide assistance to, or otherwise support, terrorists or terrorist organizations.”

The 2018-2019 Framework’s condemnation of “all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, including anti-Semitism” has been expanded in the new agreement to specifically include other forms of discrimination.

The 2021-2022 version reads, “The United States and UNRWA condemn without reserve all manifestations of religious or racial intolerance, incitement to violence, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Catholicism, anti-Arabism, or other forms of discrimination or racism against Palestinians, Israelis or others individuals or communities based on ethnic origins or religious belief.”

In April, the Biden administration announced its renewed support for UNRWA, providing the agency with an initial $150 million. The U.S. also provided nearly $33 million in humanitarian assistance in May, following the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Following Biden’s announcement, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan expressed opposition to the administration’s decision to restore funding to UNRWA.

“Israel is strongly opposed to the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity happening in UNRWA’s facilities,” said Erdan.

“We believe that this UN agency for so-called ‘refugees’ should not exist in its current format. UNRWA schools regularly use materials that incite against Israel and the twisted definition used by the agency to determine who is a ‘refugee’ only perpetuates the conflict,” he said.