photo from UNRWA, Gaza war, 2014
“The Trump administration sent notice to UNRWA that it is withholding over half of this year’s annual commitment, paying $60 million and freezing another $65 million. The move indicates the U.S. is leveraging its hefty payments to the United Nations Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) to pressure Palestinian officials” to open negotiations with the Netanyahu government. (Mondoweiss)
Trump is cutting off UNRWA, one of the most important agencies in all the world for the survival of children in occupied Palestine. It supplies medicine, potable water, food, clothing. Its facilities have been hit by Israeli air power again and again in the various Gaza wars and air strikes. Israel says its strikes are collateral damage, or that UNRWA was being used as “human shields” for terrorists. Israel’s war tactics against civilians are not collateral; they are collective punishment, and Trump is doing the same with the cutoff of funds to the UNRWA. The argument that this will pressure the Palestinians to the bargaining table is nonsense. More countries in the region are distrusting the Trump Administration after this. President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO have hardened their positions—they see nothing left to negotiate. Collective punishment will not lead to the negotiating table, and Trump's actions are backfiring.
The overwhelming majority of the world’s nations condemned Trump’s announcement that he’s moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in order to take “Jerusalem off the table,” to help start peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Then when the UN Security Council didn’t kowtow to the great Jerusalem announcement, Nikki Haley fumed that the UN “risks” seeing a massive cut in funds if it condemns Trump’s latter day Balfour Declaration (reminder: that was a short note to a super-rich Rothschild, not a diplomatic document). Trump threatened to cut off funds to any country that opposed his move to Jerusalem. Now, the cutoff of UNRWA money. Trump’s UNRWA policy is revenge, not negotiations. The champion of the “Art of the Deal” is digging himself a deepening hole.