President Trump is of a mind to cut aid to the Palestinians, but with very limited direct aid to choose from, the growing expectation is that he may instead defund the UNRWA, which provides relief for Palestinian refugees, as a more indirect way of spiting them.
The US is the largest funder of the UNRWA, but Israeli analysts are warning that defunding the agency, and by extension impacting aid to Palestinians, may end up costing Israel at least as much, if not more.
That’s because the UNRWA’s aid within Israeli-occupied Palestine is mostly seen in the form of education and healthcare, and cuts to those very visible sectors would likely fuel substantial new unrest, which Israeli security forces would be tasked with dealing with.
And that’s the best-case scenario, really. Under international law, the occupying force is obliged to provide basic services to the occupied people, and Israel has long avoided that because of the UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority providing such services.
It is this very reason that the major Israeli lobbies have long pushed Congress to keep UNRWA funded, seeing the aid as effectively being aid to Israel in keeping occupied Palestine in a state short of full-scale collapse.