Israeli Ambassador to Washington Gilad Erdan said he was “disappointed” and “disagreed” with the restart of American aid to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. A UN agency that he considers “anti-Semitic”.
The United States announced on April 7 the resumption of aid to the Palestinians – against Israel’s advice – and reaffirmed its support for a two-state solution, breaking with the position adopted by Donald Trump during his tenure.
The Israeli ambassador to the United States expressed his “disappointment” at Washington’s resumption of its aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
This assistance to UNRWA will reach 235 million dollars. In detail, the United States will again contribute to the financing of this agency to the tune of 150 million dollars. They will also provide $ 75 million for the development and economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and $ 10 million for the peace process.
“American aid to the Palestinian people serves the interests and values of the United States. It provides crucial aid to those who need it, promotes economic development and supports Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, the coordination of security and stability, ”said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
UNRWA, an “anti-Semitic agency” according to the Israeli ambassador
Israel’s ambassador to the United States Gilad Erdan immediately expressed his “disappointment” and “disagreement”. According to him, the United States should have “first ensured that certain reforms are carried out, aimed in particular at putting an end to the incitement [à l’antisémitisme] and to remove anti-Semitic content from school curricula, ”he added.
On Twitter, Gilad Erdan called UNRWA an “anti-Semitic agency” which “uses a distorted definition of what a ‘refugee’ is.” “Rather than resolving the conflict, UNRWA perpetuates it,” he said.
Israel strongly opposes renewing funding for @UNRWA, an anti-Semitic agency that incites against Israel and uses a twisted definition of who is a “refugee.” Rather than solving the conflict, UNRWA perpetuates it. Any return to funding it must be contingent on essential reforms. pic.twitter.com/52oHtv0prz
– Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@ giladerdan1) April 7, 2021
On the Palestinian side, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mohammed Shtayyeh, considered that this resumption of aid should only be a first step: “We are impatiently awaiting not only the resumption of financial aid but also the resumption of aid. return of political relations with the United States, in a way that allows our Palestinian people to fulfill their legitimate rights to create an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital ”. The head of government also called on Washington to “put pressure on Israel to curb the desire for expansion and colonization in the occupied territories”.
The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, meanwhile, considered that the American announcement sent out “a good signal”, at an “auspicious time”.
UNRWA accounts in the red
UNRWA – of which the United States was once the main donor – has faced a shortfall since Donald Trump withdrew his funds in 2018. He argued that the refugees – some of whom have been living in camps for generations – should be reinstalled. The agency said its needs had increased due to Covid-19 and the hardships faced by Palestinians living in Syria, Lebanon or Jordan. UNRWA says it entered 2021 with a liability of $ 75 million resulting from fiscal year 2020, a figure expected to exceed $ 200 million for the current year.
The new funding pledged by Washington is also in addition to the $ 15 million already announced by the United States to help Palestinians facing the Covid-19 pandemic, while Israel – which is the world leader in terms of vaccination – is criticized for not allowing the occupied territories to benefit from these advances. Israel claims that the vaccination campaign in the Palestinian Territories is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.
Washington reaffirms its support for a two-state solution
On another key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, President Joe Biden reiterated on April 7 his support for a two-state solution, questioned during his mandate by Donald Trump, who had offered many pledges of satisfaction to the government. Hebrew state. Joe Biden reaffirmed this position during a telephone interview with King Abdullah II of Jordan, expressing in passing strong support for Jordan, according to a statement from the White House.
The Biden administration has reestablished its relations with the Palestinians and given them its support, without however revealing any new peace initiative to resolve this historic conflict. Shortly after the Democratic president’s inauguration in January, the United States declared that it would reopen the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, closed under President Donald Trump. The PLO is the entity recognized internationally as representing the Palestinians of the Territories and of the Diaspora.