Italy resumes UNRWA funding in Palestinian aid package

ROME (Reuters) -Italy will resume funding for the United Nations' Palestinian relief organisation UNRWA as part of a 35 million euro ($38 million) aid package, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Saturday.

Tajani made the commitment during a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa who also held talks with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during his visit to Rome.

Meloni told Mustafa that Italy supported efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and improved humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, her office said in a statement.

Foreign minister Tajani said five million euros would go to UNRWA projects, with the remainder destined for its "Food for Gaza" initiative.

Italy was one of a number of countries to block aid for UNRWA following accusations by Israel that some of the agency's staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the Gaza war.

"Italy has decided to resume financing specific projects destined to help Palestinian refugees but only after rigorous checks that guarantee that not one cent risks ending up supporting terrorism," Tajani said.

UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza, running the enclave's schools, its primary healthcare clinics and other social services, and distributing humanitarian aid.

In recent weeks, several countries have resumed funding the agency. Germany said last month it would resume cooperation with UNRWA following a report led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna into UNRWA's procedures for ensuring adherence to principles of neutrality.

($1 = 0.9221 euros)

(Writing by Keith WeirEditing by Frances Kerry)