Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday called on the Trump administration to publish a classified report on how many Palestinian refugees are receiving assistance from the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency, an agency from which the United States withdrew funding in 2018 and that President-elect Joe Biden could restore .
“It is very important for the Trump administration to declassify the report, which provides an ongoing assessment of the number of Palestinian refugees receiving support,” Haley said. “This is the basis for speaking hard truths in the name of moving peace forward.”
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Hailey is linked to a column at the New York Post that cites a State Department report allegedly compiled during the Obama administration that shows how many of those receiving aid from UNRWA, the UN refugee agency specifically for displaced Palestinians, in fact, they were deported in 1948.
It includes a long-standing argument by critics of the controversial agency that UNRWA no longer serves its original purpose and instead works with a broad definition – including descendants of Palestinian refugees, as well as people who have become residents of other countries and are no longer displaced.
UNRWA provides health care, education, financial assistance and food to 5 million people in the Middle East, including Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The New York Times reported in 2018 that almost the entire population of the Gaza Strip receives assistance from UNRWA and the agency acts as the “de facto government” in the region.
“The outgoing Trump team must issue an updated, unclassified report that provides an ongoing assessment of the number of people receiving UNRWA assistance today who were personally displaced in 1948, do not live within the Palestinian Authority and are not citizens or permanent residents. residents of another country, such as Jordan, ”a column written by Jonathan Shanzer and Richard Goldberg, both members of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
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They claim that “the problem with Palestinian refugees is much, much smaller than UNRWA claims.”
The United States ended up with more than $ 300 million in annual funding for UNRWA in 2018 due to concerns not only about its purpose, but also over allegations that it encouraged anti-Israel sentiment. Israel has accused the organization of preserving the “right to return” for refugees in Israel. UNRWA denies promoting such a right.
At the time, Hailey, who was highly critical of the agency, was reportedly behind strong pressure to withdraw funding.
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It was one of a number of UN agencies that the United States either withdrew or rejected out of fears of promoting interests contrary to those of the United States. Biden said his administration would reverse the move.
With regard to UNRWA, he did not explicitly state that he would recover the funding, but his campaign website stated that he would “take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, in accordance with US law, including aid to refugees,” which suggests UNRWA funding is on the table.