U.S. Will Cut Millions in Funding to U.N. Palestinian Agency

A pupil stands at the entrance of a school run by United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees in Balata refugee camp east of the West Bank city of Nablus

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The Trump administration announced Friday that it is cutting almost $300 million in planned funding for a United Nations agency that aids Palestinian refugees after finding the operation "irredeemably flawed".

Foreign Policy first reported the Trump administration's decision to end funding for the United Nations agency.

"We have no announcements on UNRWA funding at this time", a State Department spokeswoman told Reuters.

"The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA", Nauert said.

Nauert said the agency's "endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years".

The agency supports some five million registered Palestinian refugees and provides schooling for 526,000 children in the Palestinian territories as well as in camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Most are descendants of individuals who fled Palestine in the 1948 war that led to the creation of the state of Israel.

The shake-up is part of the Trump administration's bid to cut its spending overseas, and as the White House drafts its Middle East peace plan.

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But U.S. officials argue that UNRWA has perpetuated the Palestinian refugee crisis.

Aaron David Miller, a former USA negotiator in Mideast peace talks, warned on Twitter that the cuts could lead to instability, and end up costing Israel.

He said "neither the United States nor else will be able to dissolve” UNRWA". S move as a "grave escalation against the Palestinian people".

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the decision.

In a letter to European Union foreign ministers, the German FM said his country has already offered $94 million to the UN's aid agency this year and will increase its contribution in the future, but the additional amount won't be enough to compensate for the deficit.

"The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction", he said.

Under U.S. President Donald Trump, Washington has only provided the agency with 60 million dollars this year, compared to 365 million dollars for humanitarian aid and projects in 2017.

The last Palestinian-Israeli peace talks collapsed in 2014, partly because of Israel's opposition to an attempted unity pact between the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions and to Israeli settlement building on occupied land that Palestinians seek for a state.

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