Published: Sat, September 01, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

United States ends funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

United States ends funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

The comments on Friday came shortly after the U.S. government, a major ally of Israel, announced that it was stopping its funding to the United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA) after determining the organisation to be an "irredeemably flawed operation".

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

It now provides services to five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The US is the single largest donor to UNRWA, giving around $350 million (£254 million) per year, and the cuts may force the agency to pare back education and medical services for 5 million Palestinians.

Just hours after the Palestinians warned such a move would further undermine the already flailing chances of peace with Israel, Nauert said there would be no additional contributions beyond a $60 million dollar payment made in January.

Foreign Policy first reported the Trump administration's decision to end funding for the United Nations agency.

Washington has always been the UN Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) largest donor but is "no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

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.

In a statement, the State Department said that the US was no longer willing to fund a disproportionate share of the UNWRA costs.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov following their meeting in Moscow, May 10, 2018.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel's establishment in 1948.

The last talks collapsed in 2014, partly because of Israel's opposition to an attempted unity pact between the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions and to Israeli settlement building on occupied land that Palestinians seek for a state, among other factors.

The State Department said it will continue dialogue with the United Nations about new approaches. The US has remained UNRWA's major benefactor and an end to American support for the agency could prove fatal.

"UNRWA does not perpetuate the conflict, the conflict perpetuates UNRWA", he said.

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