The United States has once again reiterated that its decision to withhold 65 million dollars from the united Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, was not aimed to punish the Palestinians, but rather to force the Agency to make much needed reform that would justify Washington’s transfer of tax-payers’ funds to the world body’s organization. In addition to the 65 million dollars, it has been revealed that the United States will also withhold a pledge of another 45 million dollars in food aid to UNRWA, a decision US State Department Heather Nauert emphasized was made clear to the agency in advance. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stressed, “The other day we announced that we were sending a voluntary contribution to UNRWA: 60 million dollars. We announced on Tuesday also that there was an additional tranche of money 65 million dollars, that was being held at that time that we could choose in the future, if reforms are met, if UNRWA agrees to undertake reforms, if other countries agreed to pitch in and provide money then we could provide a 65-million-dollar tranche. You mention a 45-million-dollar figure and that was for food aid. That was something that we had planned to make a contribution in early 2018 for that 45 million dollars, for the West Bank-Gaza emergency appeal and that was simply for food aid. We routinely provide them with that type of forecasting. At the time that 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 clear, that does not mean that it will not be provided in the future,” she said in a press briefing at the US State Department in Washington.
Nauert further repeated Washington’s view in which UNRWA needs reform, emphasizing that there are a lot more refugees in the program than in previous years, and that “money coming in from other countries,” including Arab states, “needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees.”