UAE Drastically Cut Funding for Palestinian Refugees in 2020
By Staff, Agencies
The United Arab Emirates drastically reduced its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in 2020, the year it signed a US-brokered normalization accord with the “Israeli” entity that was heavily criticized by the Palestinian Authority [PA].
The agency known as UNRWA provides education, health care and other vital services to some 5.7 million registered Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, mainly descendants of the 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of Palestine by “Israel”.
The UAE donated $51.8 million to UNRWA in 2018 and again in 2019, but in 2020 it gave the agency just $1 million, agency spokesman Sami Mshasha said Friday, after it was first reported by “Israeli” media.
"We really are hoping that in 2021 they will go back to the levels of the previous years," he said.
Last year the UAE normalized relations with the “Israeli” entity, breaking with a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition should only come in exchange for concessions in the peace process with the Palestinians, which has been moribund for more than a decade.
Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco struck similar agreements shortly thereafter, in what the Trump administration touted as a historic diplomatic achievement. President Joe Biden welcomed the accords and has said he will encourage the resumption of direct “peace talks”.
The PA, however, viewed the agreements as a betrayal and harshly criticized the UAE. That may have prompted the federation of oil-rich sheikhdoms, which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to slash aid.
Critics of UNRWA say it perpetuates the refugee problem created by the 1948 Arab-“Israeli” war and the Palestinians' demand of a right of return for the refugees and their descendants. The “Israeli” entity adamantly rejects the idea of a right of return.
The Trump administration cut off all funding to UNRWA in 2018, one of several unprecedented steps it took to support Israel and isolate the Palestinians. The US had previously given the agency around $360 million a year.
The Biden administration announced last month that it would restore aid to the Palestinians, including to refugees, and says it will work to revive the so called "peace" negotiations. The two sides have not held substantive peace talks since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assumed office in 2009.