Going against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public position, an Israeli military official privately recommended that the Trump administration not cut aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, according to a cable obtained by The Young Turks.
The message, marked “sensitive,” was sent in early January 2018 the American embassy, then in Tel Aviv to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It discussed a communication between the embassy and unnamed official in the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
“Speaking off the record, our contact cited particular concern with any move to reduce UNRWA funding in Gaza,” the document states. “He said that while the existence of UNRWA was a political poke in the eye to Israel, it nonetheless provided valuable humanitarian relief in Gaza.”
The cable also suggests that worsening the Palestinian economy could exacerbate violence. “COGAT has long held the view that economic stability in Gaza is linked to its political and security stability,” the document also states. [..]
“The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) assesses that Gaza’s security situation will continue to worsen as the economic situation progressively deteriorates, a COGAT contact told us [in] January. He highlighted continued rocket activity from Gaza and said the ‘dire’ economic situation was placing significant pressures on the general population.”
The cable was sent a day after Trump tweeted about the amount of foreign aid the U.S. gives to Palestinians. Only a few weeks later, the U.S. decided to cut their payment to UNRWA by $65 million. This August, the administration cut all aid to the agency.
“Cutting UNRWA’s assistance, medical care and education for Palestinians will only escalate their grievances and anger, however much Trump and Netanyahu’s goal is to bring them to their knees to acquiesce to giving up their rights and land,” Human Rights Watch’s executive director of their Middle East and North Africa Division, Sarah Leah Whitson, told TYT.
“The international community, through UNRWA’s operations, has been footing Israel’s bill for the Palestinian refugee population for decades; under international law, Israel as the occupier is responsible for the well-being of the occupied population, which it has long failed to provide for,” Whitson added.