After months of disputes, the Trump administration is set to withdraw all U.S. funding from the controversial United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the American Center for Law and Justice reported Monday.
The decision is being hailed as a win, not only for Israel but for the American taxpayers who have funded it.
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The agency, along with a few others, funds U.N.-established programs that go to Palestinian “refugees.” But according to the ACLJ, the aid funding has been mismanaged, and the number of refugees reported has been skewed.
From the Washington Post:
The Trump administration has decided to cancel all U.S. funding of the United Nations aid program for Palestinian refugees, part of its determination to put its money where its policy is as it seeks a recalculation of U.S. foreign aid spending and prepares its own Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
In an announcement to be made within the next several weeks, the administration plans to voice its disapproval of the way the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, spends the funds and to call for a sharp reduction in the number of Palestinians recognized as refugees, dropping it from more than 5 million, including descendants, to fewer than a tenth of that number, or those still alive from when the agency was created seven decades ago, according to officials familiar with the decision.
Four months ago, the ACLJ filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as a lawsuit, with the goal of having the State Department release a report they believed would show the falsely adjusted number of refugees that the organization was reporting. Many congressional politicians joined the ACLJ in applying pressure on the State Department to release the report.
The Free Beacon also reported that the number of Palestinian “refugees” was widely distorted in order to receive more money from the government.
Sources with direct knowledge of the report’s contents have told the Free Beacon it puts the number of actual Palestinian refugees at around 20,000, far fewer than the 5.3 million figure routinely pushed by UNRWA and pro-Palestinian advocates who want to see the United States and international partners continue sending millions in aid to the Palestinian government.
The inflated number didn’t just increase Palestinian funding, but it also jeopardized Israel’s legitimacy as well, the ACLJ explained. This is partially why Palestinians fight for the “Right to Return.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) uses UNRWA’s inflated numbers as a political weapon. The PA has consistently argued that these “refugees” have a “right of return” to what is in fact the State of Israel. The right of return for 5 million refugees would have a massively different impact than would tens of thousands, which is the PA’s precise goal – i.e., to relocate millions of Arabs to Israel in order to outnumber Jewish Israelis, take over the government, and eliminate the Jewish State.
The reason the State Report on UNRWA was classified in the first place was due to the Obama administration’s apparent desire to “conceal any fraudulent reporting or activity on the part of the U.N. agency that was receiving hundreds of millions in American tax dollar support,” as reported by the ACLJ.
After the ACLJ took legal action against the State Department, they finally released the report but redacted key facets.
The ACLJ argues that the funding given to UNRWA has gone to the Palestinian Authority, which has in turn funded the families of terrorists. These families are reportedly involved in the “pay for slay” program, which essentially pays families of terrorists who kill Americans and Israelis.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been extremely vocal about rewarding terrorists and “martyrs” with money, noting it is something they will always do.
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Last month, while speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies National Security Summit, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley spoke out against the UNRWA, saying that President Trump’s decision to cut funding was essential.
When you look at UNRWA, there’s a couple of issues there. First of all, you’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America. Continue to bash America. This is the government, not the people, not the Palestinian people.
They have their hand out wanting UNRWA money. We were supposed to, the last time, give them $130 million. We cut it in half, saying that they really needed to reform and fix the things they were doing, because they teach anti- Israeli and anti-American things in their textbooks. They are not necessarily doing things that would cause peace.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees handles all refugees except for those from Palestine —the UNRWA is the only U.N. agency that deals specifically with Palestinians, which the ACLJ claims is unfair to other countries and has kept the refugee crisis alive for 70 years. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, all the Jewish refugees were resettled, while Palestinians were given their own agency.
If Palestinian refugees were handled the same way other refugees were, the U.N. would have resettled them, but they have failed to do so because of the UNRWA.
The UNRWA has funded anti-Israel groups, which has not only led to an increase in tensions between Palestine and Israel but also an increase in radicalized Palestinians.
President Trump taking a stand against UNRWA is a landmark move, as it shows foreign governments that the United States will not fund corrupt regimes. It also protects taxpayers dollars from going to inhumane organizations that violate U.S. interests.