PLO accuses US of targeting ‘most vulnerable Palestinians’

The US, through its decision to cut UNRWA’s funding, “demonstrate[s] that it has no compunction in targeting the innocent,” announced Palestinian leadership.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday lamented and condemned the US’ decision to cut $65 million in aid to the United Nations agency entrusted with the Palestinian refugee issue, saying this act “targets the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people.”

In a letter, the State Department notified the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that the US is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to the body.

The letter also makes clear that additional US donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA, which has been heavily criticized by Israel for being the cause of, and not the solution to, Palestinian issues.

The State Department said it was releasing the rest of the installment — $60 million — to prevent the agency from running out of cash by the end of the month and closing down.

The US is UNWRA’s largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget.

Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO Executive Committee, accused the US of “following [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s instructions to gradually dismantle the one agency that was established by the international community to protect the rights of the Palestinian refugees and provide them with essential services.”

“This administration is thereby targeting the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and depriving the refugees of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life,” she alleged in a statement.

Ashrawi also warned that the funds cut “is also creating conditions that will generate further instability throughout the region.”

The US, through this decision, “demonstrate[s] that it has no compunction in targeting the innocent.”

“Once again the US Administration proves its complicity with the Israeli occupation by attempting to remove another permanent status issue off the table,” Ashrawi concluded.

‘Time for this absurdity to end’

Conversely, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN welcomed the US’ announcement that it was significantly cutting back its funding for UNRWA, saying “it is time for this absurdity to end.”

“UNRWA has proven time and again to be an agency that misuses the humanitarian aid of the international community and instead supports anti-Israel propaganda, perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees and encourages hate,” Ambassador Danon said.

“Just over the last year alone, UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities. It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose – the welfare of refugees,” he concluded.

Netanyahu himself has suggested transferring the agency’s budget to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which aids refugee matters everywhere in the world.

The Palestinians are the only “refugee” group with a unique agency to aid them.

Similarly, the Palestinians have a unique definition for their status as refugees which has permitted them to vastly inflate the number of Palestinian refugees and receive ill-gottem aid. Specifically, refugee status for Palestinians is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to the definition of refugee status for every other refugee population in the world.

For instance, the vast majority of the “refugees” in Jordan, more than two million, are citizens of Jordan who identify as Palestinian.

Israel has argued for years that the UN and the Palestinians are working to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and oppose any attempt to seek a solution.

Furthermore, the Palestinians’ status as refugees ensures an endless flow of international aid and has other financial ramifications.

A so-called Palestinian refugee receives quadruple the amount of aid that a Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee receives from the United Nations.

A study released in September shows that in 2016 UNRWA, which provides assistance solely to Palestinians, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the UNHCR spent only a quarter of that, $58 per refugee, on non-Palestinians.