“It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose – the welfare of refugees,” Danon said of the US’ cut in UNRWA funding.
By: United with Israel Staff
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) welcomed the US’ announcement that it was significantly cutting back its funding for the UN agency responsible for the so-called Palestinian refugees, saying “it is time for this absurdity to end.”
In a letter, the State Department notified the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that the US is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to the body.
The letter also makes clear that additional US donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA, which has been heavily criticized by Israel for being the cause of, and not the solution to, Palestinian issues.
“UNRWA has proven time and again to be an agency that misuses the humanitarian aid of the international community and instead supports anti-Israel propaganda, perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees and encourages hate,” Ambassador Danon said.
“Just over the last year alone, UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities. It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose – the welfare of refugees,” he concluded.
The State Department said it was releasing the rest of the installment — $60 million — to prevent the agency from running out of cash by the end of the month and closing down.
The US is UNWRA’s largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget.
Erlier this month, President Donald Trump expressed his frustration over the lack of progress in his attempts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and he pointed the finger at the Palestinians.
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” he said. “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed Trump, telling his Cabinet that he agreed with the critique of the agency. He said the agency only perpetuates problems and should cease operating in the region. Netanyahu and other Israelis accuse it of contributing to Palestinian terrorism and allowing its facilities to be used by terrorists. They have also complained that some of its staff are biased against Israel.
Netanyahu suggested transferring the agency’s budget to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which aids refugee matters everywhere in the world.
Palestinian Refugees’ Unique Status and Legacy
The Palestinians have a unique definition for their status as refugees which has permitted them to vastly inflate the number of Palestinian refugees. Specifically, refugee status for Palestinians is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to the definition of refugee status for every other refugee population in the world.
For instance, the vast majority of the “refugees” in Jordan, more than two million, are citizens of Jordan who identify as Palestinian.
Israel has argued for years that the UN and the Palestinians are working to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and oppose any attempt to seek a solution.
Furthermore, the Palestinians’ status as refugees ensures an endless flow of international aid and has other financial ramifications.
A so-called Palestinian refugee receives quadruple the amount of aid that a Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee receives from the United Nations.
A study released in September shows that in 2016 UNRWA, which provides assistance solely to Palestinians, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the UNHCR spent only a quarter of that, $58 per refugee, on non-Palestinians.
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