- The U.S. is reportedly planning to end all funding for a United Nations program that gives aid to Palestinian refugees.
- Sources say the announcement will be made in the next few weeks, and aims to reflect the administration’s policies in the Middle East and Israel-Palestinian conflict specifically.
- The U.S. is the largest donor to the program, and previously announced plans to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in January.
President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly in talks to end all U.S. funding to a United Nations program that is responsible for providing aid and relief to Palestinian refugees.
The decision is part of the administration’s efforts to reflect its own policies by recalculating where it decides to spend the country’s money, officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.
The announcement will reportedly be made over the next few weeks, and it comes after Trump’s administration already severely cut funding to the program, the United Nations Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA), in January.
The decision was made at a meeting earlier in August between Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to Foreign Policy.
The U.S. first weighed the possibility of funding cuts in January, aiming to cut donations in half in 2018, and eventually announced it would pledge $60 million for the year instead of the expected $125 million. (RELATED: Trump Looks To Cut Aid For Palestinians In Half)
Trump expressed his criticism for the agency funding in January, saying the U.S. receives no appreciation for its donations.
It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon praised the January cuts.
“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,” he said.
The decision to pull funding reflects the administration’s policies in the Middle East and with the Israel-Palestinian conflict specifically as it also currently aims to reduce the number of Palestinians recognized as refugees, the officials said.
At the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, U.S. Ambassador the U.N. Nikki Haley, a vocal critic of the U.N. in general, lambasted the officials of the governing Palestinian Authority, saying they only “have their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”
Haley also wondered why the nearby countries who are vocal proponents of the state are absent in providing their own aid.
“Where is Saudi Arabia? Where is the United Arab Emirates? Where is Kuwait?” Haley said. “Do they not care enough about Palestinians to go and give money to make sure these kids are taken care of?”
There is a long list of countries who donate money to the UNRWA, however, the U.S. has been by far the largest donor to the agency in recent years.
The U.S. gave $364 million in 2017 out of a total $1.12 billion budget, according to UNRWA’s official website.
The next largest donation from an individual state was Germany, who gave $76.5 million in 2017.
Even if the U.S. decided to give the $60 million in 2017, it still would have ranked in the top four largest donations from single entities in 2017.
Reports that Germany, the second largest individual donor behind the U.S., is planning to boost its funding for the program emerged Friday.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas didn’t give a figure, but said the country would be pledging “significant funds,” in a letter to European Union foreign ministers that was seen by Reuters.
“The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction,” Maas reportedly said.
The UNRWA currently provides aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the organization claims it was forced to let go hundreds of employees in July due to U.S. funding cuts.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the State of Palestine, has since released a statement on the cuts after receiving word of the reports.
“After using humanitarian aid to blackmail and pressure the Palestinian leadership to submit to the empty plan known as ‘the deal of the century,’ the Trump administration plans to commit an immoral scandal against Palestinian refugees by giving itself the right to abolish [their] historical rights,” Abbas spokesman Ahmad Shami said.
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