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Canada redirecting Palestinian aid from UNRWA

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TORONTO (JTA) — Canada is redirecting its Palestinian aid away from a United Nations agency and toward specific projects.

The shift in Canadian policy was announced this week by Vic Toews, president of Canada’s Treasury Board, who wrapped up a five-day trip to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank.

Canada is not reducing the amount of money it gives to the Palestinian Authority, "but it is now being redirected in accordance with Canadian values," Toews said. The move "will ensure accountability and foster democracy in the PA."

In the past, Canadian aid earmarked for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, went into a general operating fund in the PA’s treasury. The U.N. agency runs 59 Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In a meeting in Ramallah, Toews refused a request by the PA’s minister of planning and administrative development, Ali al-Jarbawi, for aid to be given "directly" to the PA treasury, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Among the projects receiving the redirected aid are those training prosecutors, judges and police, and shoring up the Palestinian judicial sector by building courthouses.

"If we train people properly, we will have the emergence of proper institutions necessary for a state," the Post quoted Toews as saying. "It is obviously more difficult to monitor the use of money sent into general funds than specific projects."

A statement from Toews’ office said Canada is "on track" to deliver on its pledge of $300 million over five years to the PA.

Toews said Ottawa needed "to ensure that [the Palestinian Authority] has less wide discretion."

B’nai Brith Canada praised the shift away from funding UNRWA, which reportedly has been infiltrated by Hamas.

 

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