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Israel urges caution on Palestinian refugee UNRWA funding

Withdrawing cash early could lead to an escalation of violence, officials say

    Palestinians receive their monthly food aid at a UNRWA distribution center in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinians receive their monthly food aid at a UNRWA distribution center in the southern Gaza Strip (Picture: Flash90)

    Israeli diplomats and security officials have been lobbying their US counterparts to reverse, or at least postpone, Donald Trump’s threat to cut funding for Palestinian refugees.

    Despite publicly hailing the US president’s move, officials in Jerusalem privately fear paralysis at UNRWA — the UN agency that aids the refugees — could lead to an escalation in violence before an alternative for humanitarian support is found.

    The United States is by far the largest contributor to the agency, donating $360 million (£266 million) in 2016.

    One veteran IDF officer with experience of Gaza’s humanitarian needs told the JC: “We have a lot of political criticism for UNRWA and their perpetuation of the refugee problem.

    “But until there is a comprehensive solution for the dire economic situation in Gaza, and we don’t seem to be getting any close to that solution right now, UNRWA is the only organisation taking care of the needs of the poorest people there.”

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