US/World News

Biden resumes payments to UN group that gives Palestinians aid

(JTA) – The Biden administration resumed U.S. funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency that administers to Palestinian refugees and their descendants, overturning Trump administration policy and drawing a rebuke from Israel’s government. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $235 million in aid for the Palestinians in a statement Wednesday, April 7, including $150 million for UNRWA, $75 million in humanitarian assistance, and $10 million for peace-building programs. The money is in addition to $15 million Blinken announced last month that would go to coronavirus relief, and to $40 million that will go to security training for Palestinian police. The Associated Press reported that the Biden administration notified Congress on Monday of the money for security training.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, immediately posted on social media a video saying Israel opposed the refunding, citing reports that UNRWA continues to allow antisemitic textbooks in the schools it administers and the claim that UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee is too broad, encompassing descendants of refugees. The $75 million in humanitarian assistance cited in Blinken’s statement must according to U.S. law not go to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continues to pay families of Palestinians who have killed Israelis or Americans. A workaround is for the funding to go to nongovernmental groups that administer assistance. “All assistance will be provided consistent with U.S. law,” Blinken’s statement said.

Main Photo: A boy sits near sacks of flour distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East at a Gaza refugee camp, Jan. 15, 2018. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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