The United States would cut off funding for the main U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza under a spending agreement on track to soon become law, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The ban, part of a massive spending bill negotiated by lawmakers and the White House that is expected to clear Congress by this weekend, would create a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars for the agency, known as UNRWA. That could have disastrous consequences for Gazans, who are facing an acute hunger crisis and displacement in crowded shelters and tent encampments.

The move would also put Washington at odds with its Western allies over how to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid accusations that Hamas fighters have infiltrated the agency.

The U.S. has unilaterally taken other steps to ameliorate the deprivation in Gaza, including pressuring the Israelis to allow more aid into the enclave, conducting airdrops of food and announcing a plan to construct a pier to deliver aid by sea.

Though before the war UNRWA employees filled a broad array of civil functions in the territory, operating schools and providing health services, they have since become the main resource on the ground for delivering aid to the territory’s besieged residents. As Congress bans funding for the agency, U.S. officials are seeking alternative organizations to tackle the distribution of food in particular.

But as the U.S. courts other agencies to help fill the void in Gaza, some of America’s closest allies are scrambling to ensure funding for the agency continues.

source

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