FM stresses need to maintain providing UNRWA services

FM stresses need to maintain providing UNRWA services

The US administration's threat to cut its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees would have disastrous consequences if carried out, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned on Wednesday.

NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland warned that the most vulnerable Palestinians, including those in refugee camps across the region, will be at most risk because of United States threats to cut aid to the Palestinian refugee agency. Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General St·phane Dujarric said "the UNRWA is to continue with those services until a just and lasting peace is found to this conflict".

Today, those refugees and their descendants total more than five million people.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian government called on the United Nations General Assembly and worldwide community to continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help it continue with the mission for which it was created for until the Palestinian refugees are able to return to their homes they were forced out from in 1948.

Last Tuesday, US President Donald Trump admitted the Middle East peace process was in difficulty and threatened to cut US aid to Palestinians, now worth more than $300 million a year.

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at faction meeting in the Knesset
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at faction meeting in the Knesset

"But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?" he said at the time.

Analysts have warned that if the U.S. leader follows through with the threat, and the withdrawal of aid includes funds earmarked for UNRWA, there would be a big strain on the PA to cover those costs.

Hanoun said in a radio interview on Monday that the UN Secretary-General would also be asked that the UN assumes responsibility for the financial deficit resulting from the USA decision, noting that there was a financial crisis in the agency before Trump's threat to stop U.S. financial contribution.

Netanyahu's comments at the weekly cabinet meeting confirmed earlier reports that Israel was cautiously supporting the anticipated USA funding cut, but is aiming to minimize possible harm to the Palestinians and prevent a serious humanitarian crisis from developing as a result, especially in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 15, 2016.

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