World Bank to Allocate $90 Million for Palestinians, UN Mideast Envoy Says

Total is up from $55 million last year in response to 'alarming economic circumstances in the occupied Palestinian territory, Gaza in particular'

A Palestinian man rides his horse past the UNRWA relief and social program office in Gaza City, January 8, 2018.
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

UN special envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov on Wednesday said the World Bank will allocate $90 million to Palestinians, up from $55 million last year, in response to "the alarming economic circumstances in the occupied Palestinian territory."

Mladenov said much of the money will be used for job creation in Gaza, adding that the UN is working to "reduce tensions, address humanitarian needs and support the Palestinian Authority's return" to Gaza.

Mladenov on Tuesday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to resume funding the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps Palestinian refugees. 

Addressing a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Mladenov said that "UNRWA ’s financial crisis remains a very serious concern. At present, UNRWA needs some $217 million to sustain its work in 2018. I urge the swift mobilization of support to enable the continuity of assistance and a maintenance of stability on the ground in the region."

"UNRWA has communicated to staff that every effort will be made to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable refugees of reductions in emergency assistance. Of particular concern, is the possibility of a delay to the start of the school year for some 526,000 students in UNRWA schools throughout its areas of operation."

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Trump withheld UNRWA aid after questioning its value and saying the Palestinians needed to agree to renew peace talks with Israel, while the State Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.

Seven former U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations under both Republican and Democratic presidents urged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month to restore U.S. funding to UNRWA.

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Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser, said late last month that Washington would announce its Middle East peace plan soon.

"It is now gone about a year since we discussed this here and we were informed about plans and we haven't seen it yet. I think there is a problem that there's no credible plan on the table," Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog, president of the Security Council for July, told reporters.

Reuters contributed to this report