Palestinians decry US decision to end funding for UNRWA

Palestinians decry US decision to end funding for UNRWA

Palestinian activists in the West Bank on Tuesday burnt pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump to protest a recent U.S. decision to cut all funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

A protest was held outside America House in Ramallah (affiliated with the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem), where demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and condemned longstanding U.S. policies on Israel/Palestine.

Speaking at the protest, organizer Issam Abu Bakr said the American presence in the West Bank was “unwelcome”.

“We’re here today to affirm our right to return [to pre-1948 Palestine] and demand that UNRWA continue its activities until the refugee issue is resolved based on international resolutions,” Abu Bakr told Anadolu Agency.

He accused the U.S. of harboring a pro-Israel bias and seeking to destroy the cause of Palestinian refugees displaced from their homes in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Last Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to UNRWA. 

The U.S. was -- by far -- UNRWA's largest contributor, providing it with $350 million annually -- roughly one quarter of the agency's overall budget. 

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.