Budget deal slashes U.S. funding for Palestinians’ U.N. lifeline

Budget deal slashes U.S. funding for Palestinians’ U.N. lifeline

The Washington Post reports:

Congress voted early Saturday to strip hundreds of millions of dollars from the United Nations agency that distributes most of the food, medicine and basic services to Palestinians in Gaza and across the Middle East, marking what critics say is a devastating blow to a region in crisis.

The United States, along with several other countries, suspended funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in January after Israel alleged that 12 of the agency’s 13,000 Gaza employees participated in Hamas’s cross-border attack on Oct. 7. These new restrictions, advanced by Republicans as part of an $1.2 trillion government spending package, extends the funding moratorium for at least a year.

UNRWA has become “a de facto subsidiary of Hamas,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said in a speech from the House floor Friday, echoing claims by the Israeli government, which has long criticized the agency. “The passage of this bill means not one additional dollar from American taxpayers will go fund this deeply flawed organization.”

U.N. officials vehemently deny such assertions, and Israel has not publicly disclosed evidence to support its allegations about UNRWA workers’ involvement in the attack or its claims that the group has been infiltrated. The U.N. secretary general launched an independent investigation and intends to publish findings next month. Nevertheless, the consequences of the allegations have been sweeping. [Continue reading…]

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