The European Union issued a statement Saturday pledging to continue supporting UNRWA following the Trump administration's decision to cut its funding to the UN's Palestinian refugee agency. This implies the EU may increase funding to the agency if deemed necessary.
On Friday, the U.S. officially announced it was cutting its entire aid budget to UNRWA. The decision came after weeks of speculation on the subject, conflicting reports and vague denials by administration officials.
It could lead to disruptions in the agency's work on the ground in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan and other countries in the region.
"The EU is committed to secure the continuation and sustainability of the agency’s work which is vital for stability and security in the region," said the statement, calling the U.S. decision "regrettable," one which leaves a substantial gap in the agency's funding.
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The statement says that other than the EU's member states, "many others in the international community, including many Arab states, have pledged their support to the continuity of the work that UNRWA is doing."
Prior to the U.S. announcement on Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would increase its contributions to UNRWA because the funding crisis was fueling uncertainty. "The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction," Maas said.
Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy prime Minister and minister for foreign affairs and trade, called the Trump administration's decision "heartless and dangerous," adding that "as with the re-location of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the decision makes winning support for any U.S.-led peace initiative significantly more difficult."
In May, UNRWA published a report detailing a Qatari contribution of $50 million, saying the funds will be utizilied to sustain the agency's education services in all its fields of operation.
Following the U.S. aid cut, A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the decision as "a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of UN resolutions."
"Such a punishment will not succeed to change the fact that the United States no longer has a role in the region and that it is not a part of the solution," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told Reuters.
He said "neither the United States nor else will be able to dissolve" UNRWA.
In Gaza, the Islamist group Hamas also condemned the U.S move as a "grave escalation against the Palestinian people."
"The American decision aims to wipe out the right of return and is a grave U.S escalation against the Palestinian people," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
Abu Zuhri told Reuters the "U.S leadership has become an enemy of our people and of our nation and we will not surrender before such unjust decisions."