United States cuts almost $300 million in aid for Palestinian refugees

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The Trump administration has chose to end all funding to the United Nations agency tasked with supporting Palestinian refugees and call for a large reduction in the number of Palestinians considered to be refugees, a senior administration official and a regional diplomat briefed on the decision have told CNN.

The State Department announced in a written statement Friday that the United States "will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation".

It now provides services to five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Maas did not say how much money Germany would give in addition to 81 million euros it has already provided so far this year, but appealed to the European Union to jointly support the agency to make up the deficit.

According to a report in the Washington Post on Thursday, the Trump administration will announce in the next few weeks that it is cancelling all U.S. funding for the Palestinians' dedicated United Nations agency.

Nauert said the agency´s "endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years".

US President Donald Trump and his aides say they want to improve the Palestinians´ plight, as well as start negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel's establishment in 1948.

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Palestinian leaders have cut contact with the US since the Trump administration backed Israel's claim of Jerusalem as its capital. Where is the United Arab Emirates?

The "right of return" is one of the key core issues of dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian leadership has angered the White House by boycotting its peace efforts since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the embassy there in a reversal of decades of US policy.

The US announcement was met with fury by top Palestinian officials, with a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying it constituted a "flagrant assault" against all Palestinians.

Senior members of the Trump administration have been overtly critical of UNRWA, including national security adviser John Bolton.

Palestinians have accused the White House of using the agency - and the welfare of refugees - as a bargaining chip to pressure Palestinian leadership into a USA -brokered peace deal with Israel. She called on Middle East nations to increase aid.

The controversial move led President Abbas to formally declare that the Palestinians would no longer accept the U.S. as a mediator to resolve the conflict because Washington was "completely biased" towards Tel Aviv.

There is deepening worldwide concern over deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, and the US decision to defund provoked strong and polarized reactions in Washington.

Washington has always been the largest UNRWA donor but is "no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden", Ms Nauert said.

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