WASHINGTON - US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft should seek to reinstate money for humanitarian assistance for Palestinians, including for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) said in a letter signed by 59 members of Congress.
Among the representatives who signed the letter were Andy Levin, Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar, Jamie Raskin, Rashida Tlaib, Alan Lowenthal and Ted Lieu.
UNRWA has faced budgetary difficulties since last year, when the US, its biggest donor, halted its normal yearly donation of $360 million for 2020. The US and Israel have accused UNRWA of mismanagement and anti-Israeli incitement.
“As COVID-19 pandemic numbers continue to rise, we write to seek your assistance in the effort to restart US humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, including UNRWA,” the lawmakers wrote. “As you know, the pandemic has now reached the Gaza Strip with cases beginning to inexorably rise in a place with few resources to combat the outbreak,” they added.
“It is important that we empower these public health officials, who are deliberately putting themselves in harm’s way for the common good, by providing them the resources they need to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote.
“The US government has funding available through its Migration and Refugee Assistance and Economic Support Fund programs for immediate obligation to address this deteriorating humanitarian situation,” the letter said. “The administration need only obligate these funds -- their use requires neither additional legislative language nor supplemental appropriations. These funds could be put to instant use supporting the public health response, including the 3,300 health care workers staffing 144 UNRWA health clinics that are now on the front lines in combating this pandemic.”
The US will provide $5 millionwww.jpost.com/breaking-news/trump-administration-renews-aid-to-palestinians-amid-coronavirus-crisis-624924 to Palestinian hospitals to help combat the coronavirus, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman announced on April 16.
“The USA, as the world’s top humanitarian aid donor, is committed to assisting the Palestinian people, and others worldwide, in this crisis,” he tweeted, adding that the money would go to meet immediate, life-saving needs in combating COVID-19. It was the first time the US said it would provide aid to the Palestinian Authority since President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to cut all funding to the PA.
Jared Kushner, senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, has been a harsh critic of UNRWA. In April 2019, Kushner forwarded a letter on January 11, 2018, noting this criticism to various current and former government officials, including former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s former special envoy to the Middle East.
“It’s very important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNWRA,” Kushner wrote. The UNRWA “perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient, and doesn’t help peace. Our goal can’t be to keep things stable as they are, our goal had to be to make things significantly BETTER! Sometimes, you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.”