Sweden warns against cutting United States aid to Palestinian refugee agency

A Palestinian man near the UNRWA relief and social program office in Gaza City

A Palestinian man near the UNRWA relief and social program office in Gaza City

A Palestinian man stands next to a cart carrying a flour sack distributed by UNRWA in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog said he had raised his concerns with US Ambassador Nikki Haley following reports that the US administration had withheld $125 million in funds due on January 1 for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinians.

According to U.N. Watch, UNICEF was one of 16 signatory U.N. agencies on a document stating that the U.N. would provide the Palestinians with at least $18 million for "legal recourse" against Israel.

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Netanyahu's comments at the weekly cabinet meeting confirmed earlier reports that Israel was cautiously supporting the anticipated USA funding cut, but is aiming to minimize possible harm to the Palestinians and prevent a serious humanitarian crisis from developing as a result, especially in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian government called on the United Nations General Assembly and worldwide community to continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help it continue with the mission for which it was created for until the Palestinian refugees are able to return to their homes they were forced out from in 1948.

For his part, the director of the PLO's Department of Refugee Affairs, Ahmad Hanoun, revealed that contacts were underway to hold an urgent meeting of the UNRWA Advisory Committee to discuss the U.S. threats to stop its financial contributions to UNRWA in an attempt to force the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

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The foreign minister made his remarks as he met with UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krahenbuhl.

Sweden, a big donor country that has recognized a Palestinian state, warned Tuesday that any U.S. decision to withdraw funds to the United Nations agency for Palestinians would be destabilizing for the Middle East.

Quds remains at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians hoping that the eastern part of the city would eventually serve as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state.

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