AARON MATÉ: It's the Real News. I'm Aaron Maté. Last week, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, threatened to cut US aid to UNRWA, the UN agency that provides vital services to millions of Palestinian refugees.
NIKKI HALEY: I think the President has, basically, said that he doesn't want to give any additional funding or stop funding, until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table. What we saw with the resolution was not helpful to the situation. We're trying to move for a peace process but if that doesn't happen, the President's not gonna continue to fund that situ-
AARON MATÉ: On Friday, reports emerged that the US has followed through by cutting 125 million dollars in aid and reviewing future payments. The news was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I completely agree with President Trump's harsh criticism of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency. UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem. It also enshrines the narrative of the, so called, right of return in a bid to eliminate the State of Israel. Therefore, UNRWA should pass from the world.
AARON MATÉ: Yara Hawari is the Palestinian Policy Fellow for Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. Welcome, Yara. What does this decision mean?Y
ARA HAWARI: Well, I think this is a very significant decision. Just to give you some background on UNRWA. UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949. It began its operations the following year. And it was mandated to provide assistance to Palestinians who have been dispossessed in the Palestinian Nakba, also known as the catastrophe that saw Palestine wiped off the map and Israel established in its place. Now, UNRWA's mandate has developed and evolved over the years to coincide and adjust to regional developments and events. For example, in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, UNRWA adjusted its mandate to include Palestinians who had been dispossessed in that latest round of settler colonial expansion. Now, today, UNRWA provides services such as health, education to over five million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. They employ a huge number of Palestinians in those areas.