In an action denounced by Palestinian leaders, the United States has announced it is cutting aid to an “irredeemably flawed” United Nations program that assists Palestinian refugees.
On Friday, the State Department said it will cut nearly $300 million in planned funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East because “the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share,” Fox News reported.
The United States had been funding about 30 percent of the agency’s $1.1 billion budget to support services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Officials said the agency, created in 1948 to assist Palestinians displaced in the creation of the state of Israel, is no longer deserving of U.S. support.
“Beyond the budget gap itself and failure to mobilize adequate and appropriate burden sharing, the 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,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” she added.
The terrorist organization Hamas called the cut a “grave escalation against the Palestinian people,” Reuters reported.
A statement from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the U.S. action a “flagrant assault against the Palestinian people,” according to the BBC.
UNRWA’s spokesperson, Chris Gunness, predicted dire consequences because of the cut in aid.
“It’s likely to be widespread, profound, dramatic and unpredictable because, let’s make no mistake, some of the most marginalized and fragile and vulnerable communities in the Middle East are going to likely suffer because of this,” he said.
However, Nikki Haley, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the cut makes sense, according to The Washington Post.
“First of all, you’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America,” she said at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
She characterized Palestinian leaders as having “their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”
Haley said if the need is so great, Middle East nations should be rushing to help instead of insisting the United States shoulder most of the cost.
“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?”
Haley also noted that the Trump administration will not fund those who undercut its efforts.
“If there are certain things that are not beneficial to our interests and the things that we fight for, we’re going to get out of it,” she said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.