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5 Feb, 2021 15:12

UAE almost entirely cuts donations to UN's Palestinian relief agency after normalization with Israel

UAE almost entirely cuts donations to UN's Palestinian relief agency after normalization with Israel

Funds donated by the United Arab Emirates to a UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees have dropped from over $50 million to just $1 million in 2020 amid normalization of ties between Abu Dhabi and Israel, a report said.

The massive cutback in funding could be “revenge” for Palestine's stern rejection of the US-brokered mending of ties between Israel and its former Arab foes, Israeli Channel 12, which broke the news, suggested.

A report by an Israeli NGO, the Center for Near East Policy Research, cited by the broadcaster, said that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had received $53 million from UAE in 2018 and $51 million in 2019, but last year the check was for just $1 million.

Another Arab state to join the normalization drive, Bahrain, also reduced the amount of its donation to UNRWA, the NGO said, but it didn't disclose the exact figures.

UNRWA, which helps Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, confirmed the data in the report when contacted by Channel 12.

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Israel signed a normalization deal with the UAE and Bahrain during a ceremony at the White House last September. Palestine blasted the trilateral agreement, which had been reached through the mediation of the Donald Trump administration, as a “stab in the back” by its Arab allies. It insisted that it wouldn't bring peace to the region. Palestinian ambassadors were also briefly recalled from Abu Dhabi and Manama.

The US funding of UNRWA was cut off by then-president Trump in 2018. He insisted there would be no payments from Washington until a peace deal between Israel and Palestine was reached.

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Last week, the US interim UN envoy, Richard Mills, said that President Joe Biden plans to “restore US assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people,” without directly mentioning UNRWA.

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