EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The next few weeks could be remembered in the annals of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as historic. The US administration is due to decide at the beginning of September whether to stop its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Such a decision could be as significant as Harry Truman’s decision to recognize the State of Israel just 11 minutes after the Jewish State declared its independence in May 1948.
Preliminary signs suggest that the US administration might be about to cease its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Two weeks ago, Foreign Policy reported that in internal email correspondence, Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, wrote to his colleagues: “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and does not help peace. Our goal cannot be to keep things stable and as they are… Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.” Earlier this year, the US slashed its contribution to UNRWA by half, signaling its growing displeasure with the agency.
The US contributes some $350 million annually to UNRWA out of a $1.2 billion budget. A complete American withdrawal from UNRWA would be a significant step, as it would signal that for the first time in decades, Washington is willing to touch upon the core issue of the conflict: the question of Israel’s existence within any borders.