US retains $ 65m in aid for Palestinians after Trump threat

US retains $ 65m in aid for Palestinians after Trump threat
    US retains $ 65m in aid for Palestinians after Trump threat
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will give a UN agency $ 60 million in aid for Palestinian refugees, but will retain another $ 65 million for the time being, the State Department said on Tuesday, when the government of Donald Trump seemed to fulfill a threat he made two weeks ago to cut resources.

    While she said the decision would keep schools and health services, department spokeswoman Heather Nauert chanted with President Trump in calling for other countries to come in with more resources because the US would pay more than it was entitled to.

    The decision not to release resources is likely to increase the difficulties of resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and further undermine Arab confidence that the US can act as an impartial mediator, particularly after Trump's announcement on December 6 that he acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel's capital, reversing decades of US foreign policy.

    A Palestinian official quickly criticized Washington's decision to withhold funds, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was unaware of aid-related changes but that he was "very concerned" about the possibility of cuts financial resources.

    The department has notified the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) that the US is conditioning the release of additional resources to reforms not specified in the entity. The spokeswoman, however, cited that the US decision was not taken "to punish" someone.

    "Without the resources we give today, UNRWA operations were at risk of running out of funds and closing in. The resources provided by the United States will prevent this from happening in the immediate future," said one US official, who said that additional "$ 65 million will be retained for future consideration."

    In a message published on Twitter Jan. 2, Trump said Washington gives the Palestinians "HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF US DOLLARS per year and receives no recognition or respect."

    "They do not even want to negotiate a long-awaited peace treaty with Israel ... With the Palestinians no longer willing to negotiate peace, why should we make big payments in the future for them?" Trump said.
    Wael Elyamani
    @Posted by
    writer and blogger, founder of CTV Egypt News .

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