The Trump administration will cut all US funding to the United Nation’s aid program for Palestinian refugees, according to a report from Foreign Policy.
The newspaper reports that the administration disapproves of the way the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNWRA, uses its funds and wants to reduce the number of Palestinians who claim refugee status.
Anonymous sources later told The Washington Post that if the United Nations wants US funding for UNRWA, it must change the way the agency operates. The administration also wants European and Arab countries to contribute more to UNWRA’s funding. The US is currently UNRWA’s single largest donor, but President Trump reportedly wants that to change.
Earlier this year, the administration cut UNRWA’s scheduled payment of $130 million to just $65 million.
This latest report follows last week’s announcement by the US State Department that it will cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s Channel 2 news also reported that the administration will remove the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” from the negotiating table.
“First of all, you’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America,” Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday.
Haley added that the Palestinian Authority “have their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”
Dave Harden, a former US Agency for International Development official, told Foreign Policy that the decision to cut UNWRA funding could embolden Hamas.
“An immediate and capricious cut off of UNRWA funding … risks collapsing the Palestinian Authority, empowering Hamas, and shifting the responsibility of health, education, and ultimately security services to the Israelis,” Harden said. “The decision is dangerous, with unpredictable consequences.”
The administration has yet to confirm its plans. However, a State Department spokesperson told FP that “US policy regarding UNRWA has been under frequent evaluation and internal discussion.”