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Democrats urge Trump not to reduce US aid to UNRWA

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

More than 100 Democratic Party Representatives in the US Congress have written to President Donald Trump urging him not to cut American aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Safa News Agency reported on Friday.

“We write to urge you to continue vital US contributions to… UNRWA and bilateral assistance to the Palestinians,” the Representatives said in the letter, which was sent to Trump on Thursday. “Continuing to freeze this aid will harm American interests by exacerbating the threats facing both peoples and reducing the US ability to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a two-state solution.”

The US is the largest donor to UNRWA, covering up to quarter of the annual budget. The Agency is funded almost entirely by voluntary donations from UN member states. Last month, the State Department in Washington announced that it was slashing $65 million from its usual annual donation of $125m.

The Democrats also said that increasing the suffering of the Palestinian people and weakening their government would only favour those who are not involved in the peace process and would strengthen what they called “extremist” groups, which are hostile to Israel. They noted that intelligence reports have revealed that Israel has asked the Trump administration not to make such a reduction because the Israeli government knows that UNRWA’s basic services for Palestinian refugees help to stabilise “Israel’s security” in spite of the government’s criticism of the Agency.

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