UAE slashed funding for scandal-ridden Palestinian UN agency in 2020

After the Trump administration cut off all funding in 2018 to UNRWA, which has been plagued by corruption scandals, the UAE slashed its donations in 2020.

By World Israel News and AP

The United Arab Emirates drastically reduced its funding to the U.N. agency specifically designated for Palestinians in 2020, the year it signed a U.S.-brokered normalization accord with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority was vocal in its criticism of that deal.

The agency known as UNRWA has been accused of drastically inflating the number of individuals worldwide who qualify as “Palestinian refugees” in a move that Israel condemns as perpetuating conflict in the Middle East. UNRWA only serves Palestinians, with the rest of the world’s refugees served by another UN agency.

While UNRWA claims there are 5.7 million Palestinian refugees, the U.S. State Department refuted that figure in 2020, estimating that the real number of Palestinians who meet the criteria for refugee status is less than 5% of UNRWA’s figure.

The UAE donated $51.8 million to UNRWA in 2018 and again in 2019, but in 2020 it gave the agency just $1 million, agency spokesman Sami Mshasha said Friday, after it was first reported by Israeli media.

Emirati officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Saturday.

Last year, the UAE normalized relations with Israel, breaking with a longstanding Arab policy that recognition should only come in exchange for costly Israeli concessions in the peace process with the Palestinians, which has been moribund for more than a decade.

Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco struck similar agreements shortly thereafter, in what the Trump administration touted as a historic diplomatic achievement. President Joe Biden welcomed the accords and has said he will encourage the resumption of direct peace talks.

The Palestinian Authority, however, viewed the agreements as a betrayal and harshly criticized the UAE. That may have prompted the federation of oil-rich sheikhdoms, which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to slash aid.

In 2018, the Trump administration cut off all funding to UNRWA, which has been plagued by corruption scandals, anti-Semitic curriculum in its school, and charges it enables the Hamas terror group to brutalize the population in Gaza.

The Biden administration announced last month that it would restore aid to the Palestinians.