According to presidential aide Jason Greenblatt, the White House is holding a meeting this week on humanitarian needs in Gaza [“Does Hamas have the courage to admit failure?,” Opinions, March 8]. But the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the largest humanitarian and development actor operating in the Gaza Strip, was not invited.
In January, the U.S. government announced it would cut critical aid through UNRWA to Palestinian refugees, who expected about $360 million from the United States this year based on decades of past support. UNRWA was created by the United Nations in 1949, and the United States has been its largest donor. UNRWA needs U.S. aid to meet the food and health-care needs of 1 million civilians in Gaza and to educate more than 270,000 children there.
UNRWA is apolitical and reports only to the United Nations. Undermining it is more likely to help Hamas than to hurt it. If the White House is serious about a humane future for those living in Gaza, it should end its efforts to dismantle UNRWA, which provides vital humanitarian and support unavailable from other sources. Without UNRWA and its U.S. support, there is a real risk of humanitarian disaster for Gaza, with dire consequences also for the United States, Israel, Egypt and future opportunities for peace.
Philip C. Wilcox Jr., Washington
The writer, a former chief of mission and consul general in Jerusalem, is chairman emeritus of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency USA.