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Trump cuts funding to UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)

Below is an extract from Jonathan Cook’s article entitled ‘There was a deeper, darker agenda afoot when the US administration cut UNRWA funding’, published in The National, September 2, 2018.

Shatila Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut. Palestinians have reacted angrily to the US decision amid fears it undermines their cause. (Anwar Amro/AFP). Left click photo to enlarge.

The Trump administration’s decision to scrap all future aid payments to the main agency helping Palestinian refugees marks a new – and most likely disastrous – chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict …

The US State Department said on Friday that it would no longer continue its $360 million annual contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), depriving it of a third of its budget … About five million Palestinians – many languishing for decades in refugee camps across the Middle East – rely on the agency for essential food, healthcare and education.

Other states in the Middle East have reason to be fearful. Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, warned on Saturday that the denial of aid would ‘only consolidate an environment of despair that would ultimately create fertile grounds for further tension’.

Jordan, which hosts two million Palestinian refugees, has called a meeting at the UN later this month, along with Japan, the European Union, Sweden and Turkey, to ‘rally political and financial support’ for UNRWA.

Traditional American and European backing for the UN agency could be viewed as reparations for their complicity in helping to create a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland. That act of dispossession turned the Palestinians into the world’s largest stateless population.

Except there are few signs of guilt.

The handouts provided via the UN have served more like ‘hush money’, designed to keep the Palestinians dependent and quiet as western states manage a crisis they apparently have no intention of solving.

That was why the European Union hurriedly promised to seek alternative funds for UNRWA. It noted that the agency was ‘vital for stability and security in the region’ – a stability that has enabled Israel to disappear the Palestinians, uninterrupted, for seven decades …

Some time ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas surrendered their right – sanctioned in international law – to return to their former lands in what is now Israel.

Instead, the question was whether Israel would allow the refugees encamped in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to move to the West Bank and Gaza and become citizens of a Palestinian state …

If there is no UNRWA, there is no Palestinian refugee problem. And if there are no refugees, then there is no need for a right of return – and even less pressure for a Palestinian state. Read the full article

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