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Haley on UNRWA aid cut: "We're not going to reward bad behavior"

Haley on UNRWA aid cut:

The US on Tuesday said it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give a United Nations agency that serves the Palestinians, two weeks after President Donald Trump questioned the value of such funding.

The State Department said $60 million of what had been a planned $125 million package would go through to keep the agency running, but the rest will be withheld for now.

The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl, expressed alarm and immediately called on other UN members to contribute.

Washington is the largest single contributor to UNRWA's finances and a year ago donated more than $364m to fund humanitarian projects to approximately 5.2 million registered Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

Ms. Anderson added: "This will only make the growing humanitarian crisis in Palestine even worse".

Trump took to Twitter more than two weeks ago to criticize the US aid to Palestinians. The move comes just a fortnight after the United States president said that the U.S. does not get any form of respect or appreciation from the aid it gives to countries that are torn by conflict or natural disaster.

The decision to keep back some money is likely to compound the difficulty of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to further undermine Arabs' faith that the USA can act as an impartial arbitrator.




But she declined to say whether the United States has given UNRWA a list of specific changes or reforms it needs to undertake to unlock the rest of the USA funding.

President Abbas noted that Palestine would no longer accept the lead role that the USA government played in the mediation of the peace process between them and Israel after the Trump administration announced that they were going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel formally.

The U.S. provides 30 percent of UNRWA's annual budget.

In a Twitter post on 2 January, Trump accused Palestinians of disrespecting the U.S. despite receiving millions of dollars in aid from Washington. "This is not aimed at punishing anyone". Israel and the USA accuse UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it.

Even if Washington provided the additional $65 million, the $125 million total would be well below the $355 million that a U.S. official said it gave UNRWA in the 2017 fiscal year ended September 30. "O$3 ur main point today is asking other countries to step up to the plate, not making the United States be the single largest donor or the sole donor, and other countries to step in and do more".

"At the same time, given the long, trusted, and historic relationship between the United States and UNRWA, this reduced contribution threatens one of the most successful and innovative human development endeavors in the Middle East".

Yesterday Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon intimated cutting the funding was a punishment for actions taken against Israel in or near UN facilities.


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