Posted tagged ‘Trump and UNRWA’

Trump Makes Good on Threat, Cuts Payment to UNRWA

January 17, 2018

Trump Makes Good on Threat, Cuts Payment to UNRWA, Jewish PressHana Levi Julian, January 16, 2018

US President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump has made good on his warning that funding would be withheld in response to a lack of movement towards peace by the Palestinian Authority.

The Trump administration informed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Tuesday that it will transfer a payment of just $60 million in aid to the organization – a cut of more than 50 percent of what was to be a tranche of $125 in its initial annual pledge to the agency.

The remaining $65 million in funding is being withheld, according to State Department spokesperson Healther Nauert. “It’s money that’s being frozen at this time,” she told journalists at a press briefing. “It’s not being canceled. It’s just being held for future considerations.” She said additional U.S. funding will be dependent on changes being made at the agency.

The U.S. provides about 30 percent of UNRWA’s overall budget. In 2016, the European Union – the agency’s second-largest donor – gave less than 50 percent of the American contribution, which was $355 million.

More than half of UNRWA’s budget is devoted to education; but a look at the textbooks from which the children in UNRWA schools are taught shows the agency is violating the basic tenets of the UN Charter, and blatantly inciting against Israel.

UNRWA school textbooks show there is “no hope for peace in the region,” according to a September 28, 2017 study by the Center for Near East Policy.

The study reviewed 150 Palestinian Authority textbooks for grades one to 12, half of which were published in 2016-17. Among other things, the textbooks claim Jews have no rights in ‘Palestine,’ deny the existence of Jewish holy places there and delete Israel from the map. The books also promote violent struggle as the path to liberation.

During the last war between Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist group, a number of UNRWA schools were used by terrorists to stockpile weapons and missiles. Launching sites for rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians were situated close to UNRWA facilities, and terrorists were not stopped by staff from using civilians sheltering there as human shields while attacking Israel. Hamas terror tunnels were found beneath UNRWA schools.

Senior U.S. officials told Associated Press on Sunday that the plan to withhold the funds is supported by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who both see it as a compromise to the plan backed by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who believes all funds should be cut off until the Palestinian Authority returns to the moribund final status talks with Israel.

Netanyahu urging Americans not to cut funding for UNRWA — TV report

January 5, 2018

Netanyahu urging Americans not to cut funding for UNRWA — TV report, Times of Israel, January 4, 2018

(Credible? — DM)

Palestinians receive their monthly food aid at a UN distribution center in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip in November 2012 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

Concerned that a threatened cut in US funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA could lead to a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is privately urging the Trump Administration not to implement the threat, a TV report claimed Thursday.

“Behind the scenes, the prime minister is now in contact with the Americans in order to prevent the massive cut [in US funding for UNRWA] — to prevent it, you heard right,” the Hadashot news report claimed.

There was no comment from Foreign Ministry on the report. Netanyahu serves as his own foreign minister.

Netanyahu’s public position is to support the Trump administration’s threats to cut funds to UNRWA, and Jerusalem agrees that “real steps” must be taken so that UNRWA — the United Nations body that provides humanitarian aid to the Palestinians — solves the Palestinian refugee issue rather than perpetuating it, the TV report said. “This comes up often in cabinet meetings.”

Furthermore, the prime minister backs US President Donald Trump’s tweeted conviction that the Palestinians should be made to pay for refusing to come to the negotiating table. And he does not want to undermine the US president, the report said.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu is anxious to avoid further destabilizing Gaza. He “wants to steer between the desire to publicly back Trump and to prevent a disaster in Gaza,” the TV report said.

The Foreign Ministry, the report added, flatly opposes the idea of cutting UNRWA’s funding. “Professional sources in the Foreign Ministry are ‘determinedly opposed’ to ending aid to UNRWA,” it said, quoting these sources as arguing that a cut would “make matters worse” and could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe, especially in Gaza.”

IDF sources, the report further said, “also think it will hurt, not help.”

The Trump administration is currently evaluating its financial backing of UNRWA, a US official said Wednesday, while noting that the US views UNRWA’s work as vital to stability in the region.

Those comments came a day after US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley warned US support for UNRWA could end if the Palestinians refused to engage in peace negotiations.

The US was the biggest donor to UNRWA in 2016, giving $368,429,712. It is also the largest overall supplier of financial support for the Palestinians.

Conditions in the Gaza Strip, controlled by terror group Hamas, are already dire, with electric power only available for a few hours a day and inadequate drinking water and sewage infrastructure. A recent spate of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza aimed at southern Israeli communities near the Palestinian enclave has drawn Israeli responses in the form of air strikes on Hamas targets. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire that comes from its territory, even if it is carried out by other terror groups.

Tensions between the US and Palestinians reached a breaking point after Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, with the Palestinian leadership declaring that it would no longer accept Washington as a peace broker.

Acknowledging his push to broker peace in the Middle East had stalled, Trump on Tuesday threatened to cut off all aid to the PA, asking why Washington should make “any of these massive future payments” when the Palestinians were “no longer willing to talk peace.”

The United States currently gives the Palestinian Authority some $600 million in annual aid.

In a tweet, the US president dismissed Palestinian fury over his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying he had planned for Israel “to pay” in future negotiations for his declaration. But Palestinian intransigence was now preventing any progress on peace talks, he said.

Palestinian officials have slammed Trump’s threat, with Saeb Erekat, long-time leader of the Palestinian peace talks negotiation team, saying Wednesday the threatened aid cut would leave children starving in refugee camps.

On December 21, the UN General Assembly defied threats by the administration and voted 128-9 to reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A binding vote on the issue at the Security Council was vetoed by the US earlier that week.