Palestinians reacted angrily Saturday to a United States decision to end all funding for the UN agency that assists 3 million needy refugees, seeing it as a new policy shift aimed at undermining their cause.
Washington, which until last year was by far the biggest contributor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees, announced on Friday that it would no longer make any contributions to the “irredeemably flawed operation.”
President Donald Trump’s administration has backed Israel in accusing the nearly 70-year-old agency of perpetuating the Middle East conflict by maintaining the idea that many Palestinians are refugees with a right to return to homes in what is now Israel, something they both oppose.
But to Palestinians, the right of return for the hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation is a central plank of their cause.
Its calling into question by Trump follows his December recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and axing of more than $200 million in bilateral aid for Gaza and the West Bank.
The new policy on Jerusalem overturned decades of precedent and prompted the Palestinian leadership to break off relations with the White House.