US Withholds $65 Million From UN's Palestinian Refugee Agency, Calls for Changes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an Israeli Indian Economic Conference in New Delhi India

Netanyahu 'confident' US embassy will move to Jerusalem within a year

The total USA contribution to UNRWA in 2017 was above $350 million.

The State Department is withholding $65 million it planned to send to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, calling for reforms and for other nations to step up their support - especially those that criticize the Trump administration's positions regarding Palestinians and Israel. In 2017, the U.S.

"We mentioned to UNRWA multiple times it needs to be reformed", Haley told Voice of America host Greta Van Susteren.

The United States pays the Palestinians "hundred of millions of dollars" a year, Trump wrote in all-capital letters on Twitter. He went on to say, "with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace", he added, "why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?" The move comes just a fortnight after the USA president said that the United States does not get any form of respect or appreciation from the aid it gives to countries that are torn by conflict or natural disaster.

Soon after the U.S. announcement, UNRWA launched the fundraiser for what it described as the "most dramatic financial crisis" since its inception, The Times of Israel reported.

"The move will have devastating consequences for vulnerable Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including hundreds of thousands of refugee children in the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria who depend on the agency for their education", said Egeland, a former Norwegian foreign minister and former United Nations undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

"This abrupt cut in funding has created an existential crisis for UNRWA", said ADC in a statement. But she reversed course after the Palestinians introduced resolutions at the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly that denounced Trump's recognition of Jerusalem and called on the United States to rescind the decision.

Here you've got the Palestinians who are basically saying they're going to cut the USA out of the peace process. The money, which is primarily earmarked for salaries for teachers and health workers, can not be used to cover the $45 million food bill. Living conditions in Gaza, Syria, the West bank and elsewhere in the region are particularly tough. But after a highly critical January 2 tweet from Trump on aid to the Palestinians, the State Department opted to wait for a formal policy decision before sending its first installment.

She repeated the US view that UNRWA needs reform, saying there are a lot more refugees in the program than previously, and that "money coming in from other countries needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees".

Nauert said concerns about regional stability were reflected in the decision to cut only a portion of the funding and not "zero" out the budget.

"You have 120 countries who voted against us [at the UN], that could more than take up the level of debt that UNRWA has", she continued.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said earlier this month the White House wanted to defund UNRWA outright. Danon said, "UNRWA has proven time and again to be an agency that misuses the humanitarian aid of the global community and instead supports anti-Israel propaganda, perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees and encourages hate", reported the Jerusalem Post. "It is time for this absurdity to end". The by far the largest contributor to UNRWA, having provided more than $350 million past year.

Belgium is together with other EU member states and the European Commission by far UNRWA's largest donor.

UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krähenbühl said in a statement that the reduced USA contribution "threatens one of the most successful and innovative human development endeavors in the Middle East".

Latest News