Netanyahu asked Trump administration to cut aid to Palestinian refugee program: report

September 4, 2018 in News by RBN Staff


Source: The Hill | BY JUSTIN WISE

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly only weeks ago told the Trump administration that it supported a complete halt to U.S. funding for the United Nations (U.N.) Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Axios, citing Israeli officials, reported on Sunday that Netanyahu told the U.S. about its shift in thinking only weeks ago and that the prime minister did not consult Israel’s security chiefs before discussing the topic.

The news comes only days after the U.S. announced that it would stop funding the U.N. agency that offers aid to Palestinian refugees.”The Administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement last Friday.

In her statement, Nauert said that the UNRWA’s business model and fundamental practices were “unsustainable.” She added that the group has been in “crisis mode” for years.

Axios noted that only weeks ago Israel thought the U.S. should only gradually cut funding to the UNWRA if it decided to take such a step. The country also did not support the U.S. cutting any aid to Gaza out of fear that it could lead to humanitarian collapse and an escalation on the ground, the news outlet reported.

But Netanyahu changed his mind several weeks ago and later conveyed his thinking to the Trump administration privately, according to Axios. He also conveyed the message to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Netanyahu’s office did not comment for the Axios report.

Before the decision was made official, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said it would be an attempt by the Trump administration to put pressure on Palestinian authorities.

“After using humanitarian aid to blackmail and pressure the Palestinian leadership to submit to the empty plan known as ‘the deal of the century,’ the Trump administration plans to commit an immoral scandal against Palestinian refugees by giving itself the right to abolish [their] historical rights,” Abbas said.

The U.S. State Department said it would begin discussing new approaches for providing aid to Palestinian refugees with the U.N., host governments and international stakeholders.