Posts Tagged ‘UNRWA’

Last Friday, the State Department announced it would end all funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency that provides many essential services for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The reaction to this decision has been mostly negative.

Some have objected to the Trump administration’s decision because it runs counter to U.S. interests. Some have objected because it jeopardizes Israel’s security. Others talk about the staggering humanitarian consequences for the millions of refugees UNRWA serves.

These are all important concerns. But none of them hits the mark of what the Trump administration—apparently at the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without any consultation with anyone else in the Israeli government or defense establishment—is doing. This is not merely an attack on UNRWA, as serious as that may be. This is an attempt to destroy the Palestinian national movement. Read more at LobeLog

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No one has ever complained that the United States doesn’t pay enough attention to the Middle East. In recent years, however, one country that hasn’t gotten much attention in Washington is Lebanon. But on Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee’s Sub Committee On Near East, South, and Central Asian Affairs and Counterterrorism held a hearing on Lebanon. The hearing focused on US aid to Lebanon, and whether the outsized presence of Hezbollah in the Lebanese government meant that aid should be cut.

Elliott Abrams, a leading neoconservative ideologue and senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations, spoke in favor of reducing aid to Lebanon. Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group and former lead diplomat in the Clinton and Obama administrations, spoke against such measures. Read more at LobeLog

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From the time he took over the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), it was obvious that Mahmoud Abbas was going to have a difficult road ahead of him. Replacing Yasser Arafat, the charismatic leader of the Palestinian national movement was tough enough. But, among other challenges, Abbas had to wind down the second intifada without destroying the PLO, try to restore some of the faith Arafat had squandered with his autocratic tendencies, cronyism and human rights abuses, and walk the impossible tightrope of fighting against the Israeli occupation while working with Israel under the terms of the Oslo Accords.

History is unlikely to judge Abbas kindly. The deck may have been stacked against him, but even within that context, he has performed poorly. Read more at LobeLog

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Since Israel began its mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza last month, many people have approached me asking how they can donate to 3224345539_263f7ca588_zhelp the masses of innocent victims in the Strip.

Understandably, a lot of Americans and European are concerned about giving to the “wrong” charity, given the fact that good people have found themselves under the investigative eye of the FBI and similar agencies for what they thought were mere charitable donations in the past.

I’ve been recommending three organizations. Today, there was a new cause (contact for the other three will be included below). This one is an Israeli initiative spearheaded by the well-know Israeli peace activist, Gershon Baskin. He found a very large quantity of potatoes in Israel that were going to be destroyed in order to manage the market price for them. So, he’s trying to raise money to buy as much as he can of them and send them to Gaza. It’s a smart initiative, and it would send a message, at least to some of the beleaguered people of Gaza that there are still people in Israel who are concerned about the loss of life in the Strip. Obviously, no matter what one thinks of Israel’s actions these days, that is a message that needs to get out there.

Baskin’s initiative is simply entitled Emergency Food Aid for Gaza. That’s one way to donate.

The other three organizations I have been recommending:

The Middle East Children’s Alliance is running an emergency fund for Gaza. MECA is has been doing the hard work to build life on the ground in the occupied territories for many years. They are a dedicated and eminently trustworthy bunch.

UNRWA USA directly supports the work of UNRWA, the UN refugee agency that is the main source of life-sustaining food, shelter, clothes, medicine…pretty much everything. All donations go directly to aid.

ANERA is the third organization I know well that works well in Gaza. They are funded in part by USAID, and have a great reputation for helping on the ground.

It’s true that none of us can do enough to help the people of Gaza. But there are ways to safely do something. If you can, please take advantage of one of them.

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This piece was originally published at LobeLog

If John Kerry wants to find a silver lining in the heavy criticism US foreign policy has faced due to the events in both Egypt and Syria, he Israel-Palestine-Kerry-Indyk-620x350might find it in, of all places, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The secretary of state embarked on the talks by saying there would be no discussion of them in the media; that any reliable information about them would only come from him; and that he would not talk about them. Given the history of leaks in such talks and the widespread coverage generated by any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, this seemed like a very ambitious promise. But amid an imminent attack on Syria after the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and the controversial, tacit US support for a coup in Egypt that turned out to be a lot more bloody than Washington probably expected, attention has been completely drawn away from the Israel-Palestine conflict. (more…)

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