After UNRWA, Palestinians Look to the European Union

Published September 2nd, 2018 - 11:44 GMT
The UNRWA is the UN agency that was initiated to help Palestinian refugees who fled their homes in 1948. It operates in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. (AFP/File Photo)
The UNRWA is the UN agency that was initiated to help Palestinian refugees who fled their homes in 1948. It operates in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. (AFP/File Photo)

Since the Jerusalem decision the Presidency of Donald J Trump has already forfeit any chance of being an honest or neutral broker in the Peace Process. The recent decision to cut aid to UNRWA appears to be punitive, and further undercuts any US role in negotiations.

On Friday, the US announced total cut of all funding provided by the US to the UNRWA, the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency after “carefully” reviewing the issue. The decision comes after earlier threats by Trump toward Palestinians to cut aid over their apparent unwillingness to negotiate peace plan with Israel.

As part of U.S. steps to lay the groundwork for the defunding, the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley suggested last week that the Palestinian refugees right of return must be taken off the table. This is one of the core tasks of UNRWA; to help millions of Palestinian refugees who fled their homes in 1948 war return back.

The US decision to withdraw will have significant consequences in the region.

The first reaction came by the the UNRWA spokesperson, Chris Hunness who defended the agency in a series of tweets.

EU officials also expressed their condemnation of the US decision which will solve nothing yet it will increase tensions among both sides, Israel and Palestine.

The EU Ambassador to Jordan, Andrea Fontana, tweeted to confirm the EU support for the UNRWA.

The Swedish minister of affairs also tweeted criticizing the decision.

Several US officials criticized Trump’s decisions toward the Palestine-Israel conflict that puts all peace proposals at stake.

One of the UK members of Parliaments also criticized the US decision highlighting the humanitarian crisis lived in Gaza.

Despite the fact that such a decision will harm the peace efforts between Palestinians and Israelis, the US decision was praised in Israel.

Palestinian refugees, who will be mostly affected by the decision expressed their grief and irritation, with many investing their hopes in the EU and other countries aid to the UNRWA.

Some went to criticize the US bias toward Israel that was noticed recently after Trump took the office.

The financial crisis of UNRWA started earlier in January 2018 when the US announced they would withhold more than half of the planned funding. Others countries stepped in to makeup the shortfall.

The move was widely condemned as it affect the lives of millions of refugees inside Palestine; in Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to the refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, where it provide education services, healthcare and social services.


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