Tanaiste Simon Coveney has issued a strong reaction to the US decision to end all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The US State Department confirmed yesterday they will cease all funding to the agency, calling it an "irredeemably flawed operation".
While the Trump administration has previously cut funding to the agency - which works to support around 5 million Palestinian refugees - the US was previously UNRWA's largest donor.
In a strongly worded statement, Simon Coveney has described the latest move as "heartless and dangerous", and says it will impact negatively on the Middle East region.
This decision is shocking + will make peace even more difficult. How can u promote peace+target innocent children in this way. @UNRWAâ© runs 700 schools, Heathcare + emergency relief for millions of Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza. https://t.co/2WbbKahCa2
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) August 31, 2018
The Tánaiste says he has seen first-hand the "excellent work" that UNRWA does in providing services to millions of people, including those in Gaza who have nowhere else to turn.
He says it provides food aid to over a million Gazans, who cannot feed themselves due to the economic impact of the blockade.
The move follows on from other heavy cuts to US support for the Palestinian people made in recent weeks.
Minister Coveney says Ireland continue to assist and support UNRWA and will discuss with the EU and other partners what more can be done to support its work.
Earlier, the US announcement was also condemned by Palestinian authorities.
In a statement quoted by Reuters, a spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described it as "a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people" that was violation of UN resolutions.