Washington (January 17, 2018): The United States is withholding more than half of the $125m it gives to the UN relief agency for the Palestinians, says American officials.
It will provide $60 million in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency but will hold back a further $65 million “for future consideration”.US President Donald Trump said earlier the US could cut aid if Palestinians rejected peace efforts with Israel. The US funds almost 30% of the UN agency’s work overall.
In 2016, the second-largest donor, the EU, gave less than half as much as the US.On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sharply attacked Trump’s Middle East peace efforts, saying he would not accept any peace plan from the US after it recognised Jerusalem last year as Israel’s capital.
He accused Israel of putting an end to the 1994 Oslo Accords, which began the peace process. The US appears to be acting on President Trump’s complaint that America receives “no appreciation or respect” in return for its aid.Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official said the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) needed to be fundamentally re-evaluated “in the way it operates and the way it is funded”.
“It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability,” the official added.
While Israel receives more than $3bn in military aid per year from the US. The president’s decision last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin preparations to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv were denounced by the Palestinians, who said it showed the US could not be a neutral mediator.