Aid Cut to UNRWA Proves U.S. Complicit in Israeli Occupation, Palestinians Charge

Aid cuts to UN Palestinian refugee agency will generate further instability throughout the region, PLO statement says

File photo: A Palestinian carries a sack of flour received from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza, December 2, 2009.

The U.S. administration has proved its complicity with the Israeli occupation, a statement by the PLO charged Tuesday after reports said the United States will withhold more than half the aid money it was due to pay to the UN agency responsible for assisting Palestinian refugees and their descendents in the Middle East this month.

The United States will withhold $65 million from a payment it was scheduled to transfer this month to UNRWA, a U.S. official told Haaretz Tuesday. The U.S. will provide $60 million in aid, amounting to roughly half the planned sum of $125 million.

A statement given by Hanan Ashrawi on behalf of the PLO Executive Committee accused the U.S. administration of "following Netanyahu's instructions to gradually dismantle the one agency that was established by the international community to protect the rights of the Palestinian refugees and provide them with essential services."

According to Ashrawi, the aid cuts ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump target "the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people" and will only serve to deprive Palestinian refugees "of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life."

Ashrawi charged that the move will only serve to generate further instability throughout the region. 

The UN Palestinian aid agency laid off dozens of teachers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and about 100 workers in 13 refugee camps in Jordan on Tuesday ahead of the expected aid cuts.

The $65 million held by the United States awaits "future consideration" by the administration, a U.S. official told Haaretz.

"There is a need to undertake a fundamental reexamination of UNRWA, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded," he said.