Israel 'asked US not to cut UNRWA funding'

Israel 'asked US not to cut UNRWA funding'
Israel asked the US not to slash funding to the UN body for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, to prevent angry protests and unrest in Gaza
2 min read
13 August, 2018
UNRWA staff protest against job cuts following budget cuts Gaza City [Getty]
Israel asked the US not to slash its funding for the UN body for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in Gaza, according to a report by an Israeli newspaper, due to fears it could spark further unrest in the besieged land strip.

Israel made the request in a bid to prevent the worsening humanitarian situation in the enclave, spurring on increasing angry protests at the Israeli separation fence that have been violently quashed by the military, according to Israel Hayom.

The newspaper reported that inside sources had revealed  that the requests were made to US President Donald Trump's representatives several months ago, and Israel's stance has not changed since.

Israel's pleas to maintain funding for UNRWA seem to be only for the short term while the sitution in Gaza reaches crisis point.

In January, Trump announced the US would withold $300 million of funding for UNRWA this year, which its chief called a "timebomb" for Gaza, and led to the most severe funding crisis in the agency's history.

The funding shortfall forced the organisation to cut hundreds of jobs in Gaza and the West Bank, sparking a "mutiny" in the enclave last week where workers seized parts of the headquarters. Salaries have also been deferred and various operations suspended.

In the wake of Trump's announcements of the cuts, Netanyahu voiced his support for a "gradual" funding reduction to the agency.

The Netanyahu government has publicly decried the UN body and demanded its dissolution, claiming claiming its philanthropic activities toward Palestinians are responsible for incitement against the Jewish state.

Israel also maintains a crippling blockade on the strip, which many believe is the primary root of the economic and humanitarian decline in Gaza.

Nearly 1 million Palestinian refugees are dependent on UNRWA for emergency food assistance, a ten-fold increase on the 100,000 Palestinian refugees figure in 2000.

UNRWA also runs hundreds of schools for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

It also distributes aid and provides other essential services for Palestinian refugees, including teacher training centres, health clinics and social services.

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