US Cuts Funding to UN Agency Helping Palestinian Refugees

Vastavam web: The United States on Friday halted all funding to a U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees in a decision further heightening tensions between the Palestinian leadership and the Trump administration. A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the decision as “a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of U.N. resolutions.”

“The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” she said in a statement. Nauert said the agency’s “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years.” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness voiced the agency’s “deep regret and disappointment” at the decision, which he said was surprising given that a December U.S. funding agreement had acknowledged UNRWA’s successful management.

“We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centres, and emergency assistance programs are ‘irredeemably flawed,’” Gunness added in a series of Twitter posts. U.S. President Donald Trump and his aides say they want to improve the Palestinians’ plight, as well as start negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

But under Trump, Washington has taken a number of actions that have alienated the Palestinians, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That move was a reversal of longtime U.S. policy and led the Palestinian leadership to boycott the Washington peace efforts being led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.