The Biden administration gave $135 million to UNRWA on Saturday after a framework agreement was signed between them last week, which for the first time condemned anti-Israel hatred.
“The signing of the US-UNRWA Framework and additional support demonstrates we once again have an ongoing partner in the United States that understands the need to provide critical assistance to some of the region’s most vulnerable refugees,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on Saturday.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees released news of the US donation and the framework agreement the day after US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr finished his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, which had begun on July 11.
US financial aid to the agency has traditionally been accompanied by a framework for cooperation agreement, the latest version of which was signed on July 14.
The 2018-2019 framework condemned antisemitism for the first time, stating that: “The United States and UNRWA condemn without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, including antisemitism.”
The 2021-2022 version adapted that sentence to read (additions in italics), “The United States and UNRWA condemn without reserve all manifestations of religious or racial intolerance, incitement to violence, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, including antisemitism,” adding an additional line that expands the condemnation to include a wide list of issues such as discrimination against Palestinians and Israelis.
The condemnation now includes “antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Catholicism, anti-Arabism, or other forms of discrimination or racism against Palestinians, Israelis or others individuals or communities based on ethnic origins or religious beliefs.”
UNRWA also pledged to ensure that its funds would not be transferred to individuals engaged in terror or used to support terror.
The $135m. donation brings the total US contribution to the agency to $313.8m. for this year, which is close to the annual $360m. it had received before the Trump administration cut American funding.
Until then, the US had been the largest single country donor to the organization, which services 5.7 million people it claims are refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Its contribution this year makes up more than 20% of the $1.5 billion UNRWA seeks to raise to meet its annual needs.
The Trump administration opposed UNRWA, claiming it supports a perpetual class of Palestinian refugees by also awarding that designation to the descendants of those who fled their homes during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
It was also upset by the continual finding of antisemitism and incitement against Israel within textbooks used by UNRWA teachers in their classrooms.
UNRWA said it educates half a million children in 700 schools and runs 140 primary health clinics. It also supplies food, emergency cash assistance and emergency health, mental health and psychosocial support, as well as education in emergencies, protection, water and sanitation and COVID-19 response.