Netanyahu 'behind US aid cut' to UN Palestinian agency

Netanyahu 'behind US aid cut' to UN Palestinian agency
The Israeli prime minister privately conveyed a message to the White House that his country supports a complete cut of all US funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
2 min read
03 September, 2018
Benyamin Netanyahu asked Donald Trump's administration to cut all aid to UNRWA [Getty]
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Donald Trump's administration to cut all aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Netanyahu conveyed his support for an immediate halt to US funding for UNRWA two weeks ago, Israeli Channel 10 reported, highlighting Tel Aviv's powerful position in Washington's decisions on Israeli-Palestinian issues.  

Netanyahu lauded the US move on Sunday, arguing the agency perpetuates the problem instead of solving it.

"The US has done a very important thing by halting the financing for the refugee perpetuation agency known as UNRWA," Netanyahu said while visiting a school for the start of the academic year.

"It is finally beginning to resolve the problem."

The United States announced on Friday it was ending funding to UNRWA, or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. 

Washington has long been the largest single donor to the agency, providing more than $350 million a year.

The decision followed another one by Washington on August 24 to cancel more than $200 million in bilateral aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The aid cuts have led to concerns over the future of the UN agency that provides services to Palestinian refugees and their descendants, with some five million people eligible.

Its services include operating 711 schools for 526,000 pupils in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The cut in bilateral aid will affect humanitarian programmes in areas such as health care, particularly in the impoverished Gaza Strip, among others.

The issue of Palestinian refugees has long been a major sticking point in peace efforts.

More than 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation. They and their descendants are now classified as refugees who fall under UNRWA's remit.