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U.S. freezes grant to UNRWA

By Elad Benari, Source: Israel National News, January 5, 2018.

The United States administration froze a $125 million grant to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN's agency for "Palestinian refugees", which was supposed to be delivered on January 1, Channel 10 News reported on Friday, citing three Western diplomats.

The amount frozen is one-third of the annual funding the United States provides the organization, according to the report.

The three diplomats, who asked to remain anonymous because of the political sensitivity of the issue, told Channel 10 the grant had been frozen until the end of the reexamination of U.S. aid to the Palestinians, which began in recent days. According to the diplomats, officials in the administration have informed UN officials in the past two days that President Donald Trump is considering cutting this amount completely and could even increase the cut to $180 million, which would be half the total U.S. funding for UNRWA.

The cutting in the UN funding to UNRWA is a U.S. sanction against the organization, which has come under strong criticized from both the United States and Israel, as well as against the Palestinian Arabs, in an attempt to pressure them to renew peace talks with Israel.

News of the freezing of the grant came as a meeting took place in the White House discussing the cutting of aid to the Palestinian Authority and to UNRWA.

The meeting followed Trump's tweets earlier this week in which he expressed doubt over the usefulness of American aid to the Palestinians, given their refusal to resume peace talks with Israel.

The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, providing approximately a fourth of the organization's budget.

Reports in Israel on Thursday indicated that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is opposed to Trump's planned cut in the aid to UNRWA, but on Friday Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett said that cutting aid to UNRWA is the correct move.

For years, UNRWA has been a target for criticism in light of Hamas's activity in its educational institutions and the use of its facilities by Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations in Gaza.

UNRWA was documented storing Hamas rockets and weapons "designed to kill Israeli citizens" in its schools, a fact which the UNRWA chief admitted himself.

In addition, the organization has actively taken part in inciting anti-Semitic violence.

Palestinian refugees unlike all others

Source: World Israel News

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then, it has been promoting the Palestinian cause, funding as many as five million “refugees” – the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem or Arab countries – to the tune of $1.23 billion annually.

UNRWA treats Palestinian refugees differently than other refugees around the world. The UN defines “Palestinian refugees” to include all descendants of the original refugees from the year 1948—the only exception to the legal definition of refugees in the world. Meanwhile, the nearly-one million Jewish refugees in 1948, as well as their children and grandchildren, are not considered refugees by the UN and are not allowed to return to their homes in Arab lands.

Additionally, unlike other refugees, only Palestinian refugees have their own UN Agency: UNRWA. Because the children born to the 1948 Palestinian Arab refugees are also considered refugees, Palestinians are the only refugees whose numbers are increasing exponentially from year to year.

Many in Congress have been saying since 2012 that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Editor's addition:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu response to the US decision:

"UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called right of return in order to destroy the State of Israel."

"UNRWA needs to pass from the world. There is a UN commission for the treatment of the other refugees in the world. This absurdity must be stopped."

Netanyahu said he also told the Americans that he believed UNRWA funds should be transferred gradually to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which deals with refugees worldwide.