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Israel Says Donations to U.N. Body Aimed at Funding the Arab Uprising

In the wake of Jordan’s decision to cut ties to the West Bank, the Israeli government has been closely watching foreign donations to Palestinians in the administered territories, Israeli diplomats at the United Nations said Wednesday.

“We are concerned that the U.N. and its organs would be used to channel funds for the Palestine Liberation Organization and its supporters in the territories, pretending that the money is for humanitarian aid,” a member of the Israeli U.N. Mission said in an interview.

This week it was disclosed that several Arab countries who never contributed to the welfare of the Palestinians in the territories have donated almost $18 million to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA.

Israel, the diplomat said, expressed concern to UNRWA officials that these Arab contributions may be intended to help fund the 10-month-old uprising in the West Bank and Gaza.

“There is an intifada, and the Arab countries who never showed much interest in the welfare of the Palestinians are sending money to show their support and sympathy,” the diplomat said.

But the $18 million amount is not meaningful in comparison to the more than $60 million the United States is contributing to UNRWA this year, the Israeli official said The 1988 UNRWA budget is $233 million.

UNRWA’s commissioner general, Giorgio Giacomelli, said Wednesday that the agency is facing an emergency, because its income is not keeping pace with rising demand on its services.

In his annual report to the General Assembly, the commissioner warned that the continued uprising in the territories would further complicate the grave financial situation of UNRWA.

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