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Government funding deal enforces prohibition on U.S. aid to UNRWA until 2025

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A comprehensive appropriations bill agreement reached between Congress and the White House entails a ban on all direct U.S. funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a principal humanitarian agency operating in Gaza, until March 2025, as confirmed by three sources familiar with the negotiations to CBS News.

Despite the broad support expressed by the White House for the deal on Tuesday, no mention was made regarding the cessation of aid, which President Biden has pledged to promptly sign upon congressional approval.

UNRWA, renowned for offering essential services such as education, healthcare, and social welfare to approximately six million Palestinian refugees across the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, has warned of the substantial funding gap resulting from the aid cutoff.

This action threatens to impede assistance to starving Gazans and potentially destabilize the region further, according to the agency’s statement on Wednesday. Advocates emphasizing the urgency of sustained aid have decried the decision, particularly as Gaza faces an impending famine.

The Biden administration’s temporary halt to new UNRWA funding in January stemmed from Israeli allegations implicating 12 agency employees in a deadly terror attack. While the U.N. has terminated ten employees and initiated an investigation, the U.S. awaits the review’s outcome before resuming funding.

Historically, the U.S. has been the largest contributor to UNRWA, a critical lifeline for aid distribution in Gaza. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen underscored the dire consequences of severing ties with UNRWA, cautioning against Israeli political objectives aimed at dismantling the agency and thwarting a two-state solution.

As diplomatic efforts intensify to address Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s impending visit to Israel signals a concerted push to bolster international aid delivery. Meanwhile, logistical challenges persist, with Israeli strikes impeding aid convoys and complicating distribution efforts.

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