In a pair of tweets published on Jan. 2, President Donald Trump noted that despite the United States giving “hundreds of millions of dollars” in aid to the Palestinians, they show little appreciation or respect for that aid and have been unwilling to enter into peace talks with Israel.
The tweets suggested that the Trump administration could reduce foreign aid to the Palestinians, and according to a report Saturday from The Associated Press, that appears to be under discussion among top level members of his cabinet.
The move came following more than a month of exceptionally hostile rhetoric toward Trump and the U.S. from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The rhetoric began after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a recognition Abbas said was unacceptable to any sort of peace agreement.
According to those reports, plans to dramatically reduce U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — which largely focuses on providing aid and services to Palestinians throughout the Middle East — were on the verge of being finalized.
The plan would entail the delivery of only $60 million to the U.N. agency instead of the scheduled first installment of $125 million. The U.S. contributed $355 million in 2016 and was expected to match that again this year, but not any longer. However, the full amount could be restored if the Palestinians meet certain unspecified goals, such as a resumption of peace talks.
The cut of $65 million from the contribution was actually a compromise supported by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who found common ground between not changing the budget and eliminating the aid altogether, a position staked out by Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.
According to Reuters, Trump made good on his promise to reduce aid to the U.N. and Palestinians on Tuesday, as the cut in aid was officially announced.
Of course, the cut in aid was heavily criticized by Palestinians and the U.N., with some expressing concern over how the UNRWA would meet all of their goals with the shortfall in cash. The Trump administration suggested the lack of funds could be made up by larger donations to the agency from other European nations.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said the reduced aid “threatens one of the most successful and innovative human development endeavors in the Middle East.”
Israel has taken a decidedly different position on the matter. “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, perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees and encourages hate,” Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon stated bluntly.
Indeed, The Daily Wire pointed out that the UNRWA, among other U.N. agencies, has been shown to hold a strong anti-Israel bias and is alleged to have knowingly allowed their funds to be used to indoctrinate young Palestinian children to hate Israel and support terrorism.
It was reported that children in schools funded by the agency were being taught chants about killing Jews and some had even pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State terror group.
Members of the agency are also believed to have expressed their support for violent acts against the state of Israel — who they view as an “occupying force” — and promoted blockade-breaking terrorist-supporting flotillas to Gaza.
Furthermore, it has been alleged that the agency has allowed known members of Hamas — which is an officially recognized terrorist organization — to not only use U.N.-funded facilities to further their anti-Israel agenda, but also even employed known members of Hamas as staff in certain facilities.
President Trump has long pointed out that the U.S. contributes far too much in aid to the U.N. and other nations that don’t respect us, and promised to reduce that aid and put it toward making America great again instead. This is just one of many promises that he has kept so far.
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