The Trump administration appears set to cut off funding altogether to UNRWA, the United Nations (UN) agency that administers relief for Palestinian Authority and Gaza “refugees” and their descendants.
The United States has so far this year disbursed $60 million to UNRWA. It sent $364 million to UNRWA last year, by far the largest contribution of any entity and a third of the agency’s budget.
Quoting anonymous sources, Foreign Policy reported Tuesday that this month Trump, after consulting with his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and his son-in-law and the leader of efforts to revive Middle East peace, Jared Kushner, would contribute nothing further.
At a conference Tuesday at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley suggested that absent reforms no further US money would go to UNRWA. “We will be a donor if it reforms what it does,” she said of UNRWA. “If they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering them.”
UNRWA provides relief to some 5 million Arabs in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It uniquely among refugee agencies identifies multiple generations of descent as refugees; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees extends such recognition only to the second generation.
The Trump administration also reportedly wants to slash the number of Arabs eligible for UNRWA assistance to 500,000.
UNRWA is notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.
Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.
More recently, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza expressed his support for the anti-Israel marches along the Israel-Gaza border and pledged that the organization’s medical centers will provide care for “Palestinian refugees” who might sustain injuries during them.