On Friday, the US announced it “will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” the UN Agency that has served Palestinian interests exclusively for the past 70 tears.
By: World Israel News Staff
The US State Department issued a statement on Friday confirming reports that circulated earlier in the week regarding the Trump administration’s intention to cut all funding to UNRWA, the Palestinians’ dedicated United Nations agency.
The cut means that the US will not provide an additional $300 million in funds this year. Until now, the US had furnished close to a third of all UNRWA’s budget.
“When we made a U.S. contribution of $60 million in January, we made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs that we had assumed for many years,” explained State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Friday.
“[T]he fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” added Nauert.
Among the reasons Nauert cited in the statement for the US decision were “the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business” and UNRWA’s “endlessly crisis-driven service provision model.”
Following the announcement, Palestinian leaders condemned the US’ decision, with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, claiming the move “strengthens terrorism in the region” and demanding that the UN take a “firm stand” against the US, reported AP.
The spokesman of the Hamas terror group, Hazem Qassem, also accused the US of using the UNRWA decision to attempt to end the Palestinians’ so-called “right to return,” a demand that every descendant of an Arab who voluntarily left or was expelled from land that became the State of Israel be permitted to “return” to that territory.
To that end, Qassem claimed Trump is “a partner in the assault on our Palestinian peoples’ rights,” AP reported
Meanwhile, UNRWA’s spokesman in Gaza, Adnan Abu Hasna, on Saturday called the US’ move “a gift to terror,” reported the Times of Israel.
Israel, for its part, welcomed the US’ decision to end UNRWA funding with an official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office remarking on condition of anonymity that “Israel supports the US move,” reported the Times.
“Consolidating the refugee status of Palestinians is one of the problems that perpetuates the conflict,” the official added.
Prior to the official announcement, Netanyahu’s office on Friday was quoted by Hadashot news as saying, “Israel supports the move because UNWRA is one of the main problems perpetuating the conflict.”
Israel has thus refused to accept the Palestinian “right of return” demand, which it says would endanger the nation’s essential Jewish character via demographic attack.
On Saturday, Hadashot quoted senior Israeli diplomatic sources as saying that while the US won’t prevent third party nations in the Arab world from propping up UNRWA with emergency funding, the US’ ultimate goal is to “close down UNRWA altogether.”
Notwithstanding the UNRWA decision, the US’ statement on Friday indicated the Americans intent to address the Palestinian issue, with Nauert stating, “[T]he United States will intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments, and international stakeholders about new models and new approaches, which may include direct bilateral assistance from the United States and other partners, that can provide today’s Palestinian children with a more durable and dependable path towards a brighter tomorrow.”