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Israeli minister hails US ending aid for Palestinian refugees

Yisrael Katz praised Washington's decision to halt aid to UNRWA [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 September, 2018

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Israeli intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Saturday praised the halt of US funding for the UN relief and works agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees.
Washington's decision to halt funding for the United Nations relief and works agency [UNRWA] for Palestinian refugees was hailed by an Israeli minister on Saturday.

The move by Donald Trump's administration was a support of Israel's position, Israel's intelligence minister Yisrael Katz said.

"I praise the decision of the president of the United States to halt all funding of UNRWA - the body that enshrines the Palestinian refugee problem," Katz wrote on Twitter.

His remarks came after the US, which has long been UNRWA's largest donor, announced on Friday it was no longer willing to fund the agency.

The US supplies nearly 30 percent of the total budget of UNRWA, which provides health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

The move was condemned by many, including the EU, which urged the US to reconsider its decision.

"The regrettable decision of the US to no longer be part of this international and multilateral effort leaves a substantial gap," a spokesperson for the EU's diplomatic service said in a statement.

The German government announced it will increase its aid to UNRWA to help the agency overcome a funding crisis.

"We are currently preparing to provide an additional amount of significant funds," German foreign minister Heiko Maas said on Saturday.

Maas gave no indication of how much the increase will be but said it will not cover the deficit caused by the US cuts. 

He urged the EU and other states to work towards "a sustainable finance basis for the organisation".

This year, Germany contributed 81 million euros ($94 million) in aid for UNWRA.

UNRWA was created in 1949 to support 750,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the war surrounding the creation of Israel. Those still alive today along with their descendants are classified as refugees.

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