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COMMENTARY OF THE DAY
by
Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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SEPTEMBER 2, 2018

     Some smart, fair and good news.  The Trump administration announced on Friday it would cease all funding of an agency that provides services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. It is a reversal of decades of U.S. policy on a core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  "The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation," State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert said in a statement. In previous years the U.S. has provided more than $350 million — about a third of the annual budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The organization uses the funds to run schools and clinics for Palestinian refugees in occupied territories — the West Bank and Gaza — as well as those in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

     The White House's withdrawal of support has been expected for some time; It had suspended most of the aid in January after making a $60 million contribution. At the time officials said the department was reassessing future aid, and called on other countries to take on greater financial responsibility.  "We made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA's costs that we had assumed for many years," Nauert said in the statement.

     In recent months, neighboring Arab and European countries have pledged to protect the aid organization. Just hours before the State Department announcement on Friday, Germany agreed to significantly boost funding, the AP reported.  The Times of Israel reported that "Jordan said Thursday it would host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in New York next month to keep UNRWA afloat." But international efforts appear to have done little to assuage the Trump administration's concerns over the U.N. agency's fundamental business model, which it called "simply unsustainable" and described as being in "crisis mode for many years.
 
 

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