update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

US increases funding for UNRWA

America giving the agency $223m this year despite its teachers' support for terrorism.

Palestinians mark the Eid al-Adha holiday at an UNRWA school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 31, 2020. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinians mark the Eid al-Adha holiday at an UNRWA school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 31, 2020. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

The U.S. State Department has allocated more than $220 million for UNRWA this year despite its schools’ curriculum that glorifies violence and terrorism and an agreement that conditions funding on the prevention of teaching hate and antisemitism.

A $16 million funding increase the State Department announced last week raises U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East this year to $223 million, cementing Washington’s position as UNRWA’s largest donor.

UNRWA teachers and schools regularly call for the murder of Jews and create institutional teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism, a recent report found.

“UNRWA not only teaches the hate-filled Palestinian curriculum but produces in its own extremist teaching materials,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se (the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education), which co-authored the report with UN Watch.

“The U.S. seems to be bucking a global trend in increasing its funding to UNRWA while the organization does nothing to stop the hate teaching,” Sheff added.

The Trump administration stopped all US funding to UNRWA, a move the Biden administration reversed.

Over the last two and half years, the U.S. has contributed nearly $1 billion to UNRWA.

A senior State Department official told a congressional of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that the department was aware of the continuing reports of incitement to violence at UNRWA schools.

“We have the same concerns you have about curricula or teaching in the classroom that in any way glorifies violence, terrorism and so forth,” Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said. “So it is very much a work in progress, and we’re committed to it.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, speaking at a signing ceremony earlier this month with the U.S. marking its contribution, said, “We are very grateful for the United States’ long-standing financial and political support and partnership.

“By providing UNRWA flexibility in how it utilizes U.S. funding, the U.S. also gives the agency the means to prioritize spending where it is most needed, helping us address the agency’s ongoing financial challenges,” Lazzarini said.

“We are proud of our joint achievements,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes said at the ceremony.

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