After the UN offered a resounding rebuke of President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley threatened to cut funding to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East.
The news was not well received by the Palestinians or the international community.
On January 16th, spokesperson Heather Nauert announced the State Department was voluntarily distributing $60 million, yet withholding an additional $65 million for purposes of accountability.
So let me start by saying that we delivered a letter today to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East – UNRWA. We committed a voluntary contribution of $60 million for 2018 so far. This will be divided into tranches… One of the reasons we decided to do this is that we felt that not providing that money would run the risk of having the organization and the people there run out of funds and that those entities would have to be potentially closed down… One of the things that the United States would like to do is see some revisions made in how UNRWA operates.
Reaction by UNRWA and the international community was swift. By the 18th, Belgium had already pledged $23 million to fill the void over the next three years, according to al Jazeera.
In another State Department press briefing on the 18th, Ms. Nauert announced a revision to $45 million previously pledged to UNRWA in December 2017.
We routinely provide them with that type of forecasting. At the time, though, when we provided that note, that information, to UNRWA, we made it clear that it was a pledge, it was not a guarantee, and that it would need to be confirmed later. At this time, we will not be providing that, but that does not mean – I want to make it clear – that does not mean that it will not be provided in the future.
For those who may have missed it, UNRWA has been known to aid and abet Hamas terrorists by using (US funded) UNRWA schools to store their arsenal of weapons, according to a UN report. In fact, the same report confirmed the schools may have been used to launch rocket attacks into Israel.
The Government of Israel showed the Board a video, which the Board concluded was authentic, showing the launching of a projectile from within the school premises on 14 July. The Government also provided a document that was said to identify the places close to the school from which rockets had been launched, together with the dates of those launches. The Board concluded that it was highly likely that an unidentified Palestinian armed group could have used the school premises to launch attacks on or around 14 July.
Despite public availability of the UN report, however, the mainstream media continues to vilify Israel for attacking the schools while highlighting UNRWA’s condemnation of tunnels found under their schools.
Is it any wonder why the State Department wants UNRWA’s operations fully vetted before committing additional funds that may be used to establish staging grounds for more terrorist activities?
Now for some refreshing news…
On January 8th, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) confirmed its commitment to fund humanitarian aid in Iraq through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Following Vice President Pence’s remarks in October of last year, USAID renegotiated the terms of its agreement to contribute to the UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) so that $55 million of a $75 million payment will address the needs of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority communities in Ninewa Province, especially those who have been victims of atrocities by ISIS. The modified agreement ensures that the U.S. contribution will help the populations of liberated areas in Ninewa Province resume normal lives by restoring services such as water, electricity, sewage, health, and education. The $75 million contribution is the first tranche of the $150 million announced for the FFS by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman in July 2017; fulfillment of the rest of that pledge will depend on UNDP’s success in putting in place additional accountability, transparency, and due-diligence measures for the FFS.
A careful reading of USAID’s commitment reveals their intent to immediately help disenfranchised Christians who were targeted by ISIS while making sure the money is used for its intended purpose before any additional funds are released.
Kudos to the new vision of accountability placed ahead of our humanitarian aid expenditures!