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January 16, 2018 2:04 pm

Seeking Reforms, Trump Administration to Withhold $65 Million in Funding for UN Palestinian Refugee Agency

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Boxes containing UNRWA aid are seen at the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

The United States will give a UN agency $60 million in aid for Palestinians, but will withhold a further $65 million “for future consideration,” an American official said on Tuesday.

In keeping back some of the aid, Washington appeared to carry out a threat made by President Donald Trump in a Twitter post on Jan. 2 in which he said that America gives the Palestinians “HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”

“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel … with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” Trump added in his tweet.

The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that will receive the money needed to be fundamentally reevaluated “in the way it operates and the way it is funded.”

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While the official did not link the US decision to Trump’s tweet, he made a point often advanced by the president by saying America had been UNRWA’s single largest donor for decades and calling on other nations to do more.

“It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability,” the official said.

Later on Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon issued a statement, saying, “UNRWA has proven time and again to be an agency that misuses the humanitarian aid of the international community and instead supports anti-Israel propaganda, perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees and encourages hate.”

“Just over the last year alone,” he continued, “UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities. It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose — the welfare of refugees.”

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