Three months after indefinitely delaying the potential move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, President Donald Trump has retained another core policy of preceding administrations by promising that annual American funding of $300 million to a UN agency that caters solely to Palestinian refugees will not be halted, Foreign Policy reported this week.
“Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has privately assured the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, that the United States, which provides more than $300 million to the agency each year, will maintain its current levels of funding to the organization,” the journal reported. “‘America has long been committed to funding UNRWA’s important mission, and that will continue,’ said one official at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.”
Foreign Policy noted that the US pledge runs “contrary to the administration’s push to rein in spending on UN relief programs elsewhere. It reflects growing concern that the imposition of sharp cuts to Palestinian relief programs could thwart the White House campaign to restart Middle East peace talks, and inject further political instability in a region that stands permanently perched on the brink of political upheaval.”
The decision also puts the US sharply at odds with the Israeli government. While Israel has historically recognized the stabilizing role played by UNRWA in providing key services to the 750,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants — who now number around five million people — more recently, it has urged that the agency be dissolved into the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which caters to the remainder of the world’s current 65 million refugees.
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