UNRWA Faces Funding Crisis, Announces Major Service Cuts
US Funds Withheld and Incitement Concerns Lead to Severe Reduction in UNRWA Services
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) held a donors conference on June 2 at the UN headquarters in New York. The conference aimed to raise funds for the agency, which operates 59 temporary refugee camps for Arabs displaced after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. With 67 nations and 33 nonprofit organizations providing health, education, and welfare services to the 6.7 million UNRWA refugee population, including descendants of the original 700,000 refugees, the event was crucial for securing support.
Despite seeking to raise $1.6 billion to cover the full UNRWA budget, Commissioner Phillipe Lazzarini announced that only 30% of the budget was raised, leading to a significant reduction in UNRWA services. The majority of the budget, 58%, is allocated to education.
However, the ongoing US policy of freezing funds to UNRWA remains a significant obstacle. The US has withheld its funds until UNRWA demonstrates its commitment to the US-UNRWA Accord, which prohibits funding as long as incitement to violence persists in UNRWA schools.
Due to this policy, UNRWA cannot access the $211 million allocated by the US this year. Recent revelations, such as UNRWA conducting summer camps in honor of terrorists involved in acts of murder, further complicate the situation. The UNRWA commissioner is unlikely to witness the resumption of US cash flow to the agency under these circumstances.
Additionally, the use of a fourth-grade textbook glorifying an Arab woman terrorist who led a lethal attack in 1978, resulting in the deaths of over 30 Jews, including 13 children, adds to the concerns surrounding UNRWA’s activities.
Maps of Israel No Longer Provided in Jerusalem Hotels
Israel Ministry of Tourism Alters Distribution Policy, Citing Smartphone Usage
Hotels in Jerusalem have recently ceased providing maps of Israel to their guests. When contacted, the spokesperson for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Haim Katz, confirmed that this change in practice is intentional. The ministry now expects guests to rely on their smartphones for accessing maps of Israel. The spokesperson clarified that privately produced maps are available upon request, but the ministry will no longer distribute maps to hotels as before.
However, a hotel administrator in Jerusalem shared an incident where they called Tourism Minister Katz directly to request a map of Israel, only to be instructed to collect one personally from the ministry’s Jerusalem office.
Maps are crucial for visitors who may be unaware of the proximity of proposed Palestinian territories to Jewish communities in Israel. While the ministry cites smartphone usage as a reason for the change, the decision has sparked questions about the accessibility and convenience of maps for tourists who may not have reliable internet access or prefer traditional printed maps.
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Concerns Arise Over Abbas’ Health Amidst China Visit
Fatah Sources Report Deteriorating Health, Contradicting Public Image
Reports from Fatah sources in Beirut indicate that Mahmoud Abbas, the 88-year-old head of Fatah and the Palestine National Authority, is facing deteriorating health. However, Abbas’s recent visit to China seems to contradict these reports, as he appeared in apparent good health during his arrival in Beijing, captured by TV cameras.
This unexpected development raises questions about Abbas’s health and the purpose of his trip. It is unusual for a leader coping with health issues to embark on international visits unless medically advised.
Some have expressed skepticism, wondering if the visit to China serves as a distraction from his health concerns.