By Hussein Elkabany
The Arab League on Saturday condemned a U.S. decision to end funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.
In a statement, the Cairo-based league said the U.S. move “reflects a desire to take the issue of Jerusalem and refugees off the negotiating table between the Palestinians and Israelis”.
“Washington will be responsible for the great harms caused by this decision to around five million Palestinian refugees who are dependent on the agency aid,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said.
On Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington "will no longer commit further funding" to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Aboul-Gheit said the U.S. decision will not only harm the refugees, but also the host countries.
He said the decision “complicates the problems in the Middle East and does not help bring stability
The U.S. was by far UNRWA's largest funder, giving $350 million annually, or about one-quarter of the agency's budget.
Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.