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  • Palestinians protesting against the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

    Palestinians protesting against the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 August 2018

Arab countries have vowed to protect the UN Palestinian agency and Germany have pledged to increase their financial contributions.

The United States government has officially cut all remaining funding it provides to a United Nations programme aimed at assisting over five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories, as well as Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. The move also includes lobbying other countries to follow suit.

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The news was reported shortly after 3 p.m. local time on Friday by Associated Press.

Senior members of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or Unrwa, and U.S. officials had anticipated the defunding measures, which could have devastating effects.

Arab countries have vowed to protect the agency. Germany, for its part, has pledged to increase their financial contributions.

The news emerged days after the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing US$200 million from the principal U.S. development agency, USAID, for programmes based mainly in Gaza where they help tens of thousands of people, according to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. government also plans to push for considerable reductions in the number of Palestinians officially registered as refugees.

Roughly five million Palestinians are registered as refugees. However, the United States aims to reduce that number to approximately 500,000, representing only those who were displaced from their homes, not the millions of their descendants.

The United States has long topped the Unrwa donor list, paying roughly a third of the agency's annual budget. Earlier this year, however, the government reduced a scheduled payment of USD$130 million to USD$65 million, arguing that the Unrwa must make unspecified reforms and demanding that the Palestinian authority resume peace negotiations.

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