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Report: Netanyahu asked Trump to cut all UNRWA funding 2 weeks ago

September 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

Protest outside UNRWA after employees were to be forced in to retirement [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The US decision to cut all funding for the United Nations’ Palestine refugee agency came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly requested such a step, according to reports.

Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 10 News told the Axios site that “around two weeks ago”, Netanyahu “privately conveyed a message to the White House stressing that Israel’s position regarding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has changed — and that it now supports a complete cut of all US funding”.

Citing conversations with Israeli officials, Ravid added that Netanyahu apparently “communicated with the Trump administration without consulting Israel’s security chiefs”.

“Until several weeks ago, the Israeli policy was that any cut in American funding of UNRWA should be gradual and without any aid cuts to Gaza, thanks to the fear of a humanitarian collapse and an escalation on the ground,” the report continued, a position backed by the military and Shin Bet.

Read: America’s madness regarding the UNRWA

Netanyahu’s decision to change Israel’s position “several weeks ago” was “conveyed…privately to the White House and to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee via his close confidant, [Israeli ambassador] Ron Dermer”, without “any discussion in the Israeli security cabinet”.

Ravid added that “the officials said many senior defense and intelligence officials in Israel were caught by surprise by the policy shift and did not see it coming”.

The US announced on Friday that it would no longer be supporting UNRWA with $360 million in donations each year. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the organisation’s business model and fiscal practices were an “irredeemably flawed operation” and that the agency’s “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable.”

US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]