UNRWA raises over $110 million from UN member states, countering US cutoff

Washington had been the largest contributor but pulled the plug to protest “anti-Israeli and anti-American things in their textbooks.”

By World Israel News Staff 

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, announced Tuesday that it had raised more than $110 million at its annual international Pledging Conference in New York, even as the U.S. – which announced last year that it was stopping to provide aid to the agency – was leading a conference in Bahrain to promote the economic portion of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

“Today in New York, we witnessed another remarkable mobilization and great generosity in support of UNRWA.  I am deeply grateful for the trust of United Nations (U.N.) member states, for the pledges of more than $110 million, and for the commitment to the dignity and rights of Palestine refugees,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl.

The U.S. reportedly was, by far, the largest contributor to the agency. Just days before the American August 31, 2018 announcement on ceasing to provide aid, then-Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley charged that UNRWA was “not doing things that would necessarily cause peace.”

The agency teaches “anti-Israeli and anti-American things in their textbooks,” she said. “It’s very political.”

Last month, Krähenbühl warned that UNRWA had enough money to continue running operations only until mid-June.

Speaking at Tuesday’s pledging conference, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of the need to “rise to the challenge and empower UNRWA,” which says that it looks out for “millions of Palestine refugees living in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and Gaza.”

However, Israeli and American critics have accused the agency of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem.

The U.S. economic plan announced to coincide with the Bahrain conference speaks of $50 billion in regional investment projects over the coming decade, more than half in the Palestinian territories in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and the rest in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.