Germany to Boost Funds for Palestinians After US Cut

The Trump administration is expected to announce in coming weeks that it is ending all aid for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza as well as neighbouring countries.

The Palestinian Authority has refused all contact with Washington since US President Donald Trump announced late previous year that he was unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem - which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians - as the Israeli capital, making the US one of very few countries to do so.

The State Department said in a statement that after contributing $60 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East in January, "the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share".

The move came a week after the USA announced that it was also cutting more than $200m in economic aid to Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the decision from the Trump administration an attempt to put pressure on Palestinian authorities.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel's establishment in 1948.

"The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to Unrwa", spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

"The American decision aims to wipe out the right of return and is a grave U". In Gaza, the Islamist group Hamas also condemned the U.

Earlier on Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would increase its contributions to UNRWA because the funding crisis was fueling uncertainty.

Were UNRWA to become defunct, it could cause an "uncontrollable chain reaction", the minister warned.

In previous years the USA has provided more than $350 million - about a third of the annual budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The State Department said it would begin discussing new approaches for providing aid to Palestinian refugees with the United Nations, host governments and global stakeholders.

"We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and worldwide donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business", she said. Critics say that UNRWA's strategy perpetuates the Palestinian "refugee" problem, instead of devising a solution for it.

  • Rogelio Becker