UNRWA: Aid freeze due to diplomatic row

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency supports about 5 million Palestinians

The recent developments comes as part of President Trump's push for blackmail and punishment tactics against the Palestinians as their leadership as well as most world nations rebuked his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israel's undivided capital, ignoring long-standing worldwide accords and the Palestinian claim to the eastern part of the holy city.

"At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip", Krähenbühl said Tuesday shortly after the decision by the USA administration of Donald Trump.

UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl said he would appeal to other donor nations for money and launch "a global fundraising campaign" aimed at keeping the agency's schools and clinics for refugees open through 2018 and beyond.

A Palestinian boy carries a cooking pot during a protest against aid cut, outside United Nations' offices in Gaza City January 17, 2018.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement on Wednesday that Brussels would allocate the funds over three years.

De Croo also emphasised that the European Union was the biggest donor to the agency, following US President Donald Trump's tweets regretting the "hundreds of millions of dollars" provided to the Palestinians by the US.

". With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

On Tuesday his administration suspended US$65 million to UNRWA, followed yesterday by another US$45 million in food aid destined for the agency.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the money was being held but could be released "in the future, if reforms are met, if UNRWA agrees to undertake reforms, if other countries agreed to pitch in and provide money".

But this week, the administration of US President cut in half the $125m it had pledged.

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Krahenbuhl said the agency had received no communication from the United States about further necessary reforms in recent days.

He added that during a recent visit to the USA he had been informed the administration was satisfied with UNRWA's performance.

MEF President Daniel Pipes responded to the call by stating, "We are prepared to help UNRWA, conditional on it making some reforms".

"For the moment there has been no further communication".

Under the agency's rules, UNRWA can adjust the definition of a refugee and has done so in the past.

In 2015 UNRWA schools almost did not open on time because of funding shortages.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the U.S. move to withhold payments, telling reporters during his state visit to India this week that for "the first time that there is a challenge to UNRWA, after 70 years".

While UNRWA has been criticised for not working to resettle refugees, Israel has not granted refugees the right to return and other countries such as Lebanon have largely denied Palestinians citizenship and access to employment or land.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called for a gradual cut in UNRWA funding and transferring its responsibilities to the United Nations global refugee agency, voiced measured support for the USA step. The population of Palestinian refugees thus grows each year, even as other refugee populations in the world shrink with each passing generation.

In the coming years, "Belgium, along with the European Union and countries from the region, will continue to support UNRWA and the Palestinian refugees", De Croo's statement said.

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