USA will 'cut all funds to United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees'

USA will 'cut all funds to United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees'

USA will 'cut all funds to United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees'

Earlier this year, the Trump administration froze most of its support to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the agency that aids Palestinian refugees, providing $60 million and holding back more than $300 million.

"The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation", State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert said in a statement.

UNRWA has faced a cash crisis since the United States, long its biggest donor, slashed funding earlier this year, saying the agency needed to make unspecified reforms and calling on the Palestinians to renew peace talks with Israel.

UNRWA has warned it now only has the funds to keep its 711 schools open for the next month.

Nauert said the USA would "intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments, and worldwide stakeholders about new models and new approaches" to help alleviate any impact on Palestinian children.

The latest announcement comes a week after the administration said it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza. We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and global donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business.

"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", Nauert said in the statement.

Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds, reporting from Washington, DC, said the USA decision was "likely to considerably worsen an already dire situation in parts of the Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza". Most are descendants of people who were pushed out of Israel in the run-up to its creation, and they are considered refugees by the U.N. But the Trump administration wants to vastly reduce the number of people who are granted that status, from 5 million to about 500,000. Trump has accused the Palestinians of blocking progress in the Middle East peace talks, while the Palestinian side accuses him of a pro-Israel bias.

UNRWA was established in 1949 after 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries in the run-up to the establishment of the state of Israel.

The Palestinians were further enraged by the opening of the USA embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, which was attended by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has been tasked with trying to revive the essentially moribund Middle East peace process. Trump vowed early on in his presidency that the USA will no longer fund agencies and countries that do not support its interests.

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