The United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees, the State Department announced Friday, a week after slashing bilateral U.S. aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza.
The U.S. supplies nearly 30 percent of the total budget of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, and had been demanding reforms in the way it is run. The department said in a written statement that the United States “will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.” The decision cuts nearly $300 million of planned support.
UNRWA released a statement late Friday rejecting “in the strongest possible terms” the Trump administration’s criticism of the agency and expressing “deep regret and disappointment.”
The U.S. decision comes as President Donald Trump and his Middle East pointmen, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, prepare for the rollout of a much-vaunted but as yet unclear peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, and it could intensify Palestinian suspicions that Washington is using the humanitarian funding as leverage.
The Palestinian leadership has been openly hostile to any proposal from the administration, citing what it says is a pro-Israel bias, notably after Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv in May. The Palestinian Authority broke off contact with the U.S. after the Jerusalem announcement.