US official to Jpost: Report on UNWRA funding freeze 'not true'

The United States has frozen $125 million in funding for a UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees.

January 6, 2018 15:34
2 minute read.
PALESTINIANS BURN a picture of US President Donald Trump as they take part in a protest against Trum

PALESTINIANS BURN a picture of US President Donald Trump as they take part in a protest against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, earlier this week. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

A US official category denied a report saying Washington had cut $125 million in funds for UNRWA that made waves in Israeli and US media over the weekend. 

This story is not true," the official told The Jerusalem Post. "Just because they [UNWRA] were expecting the money on the first, and they did not get at that time, does not mean it was suspended or cancelled. Deliberations are ongoing, and we have until mid January to make a final decision."

The report was first published on the Axios news site on Friday, citing three unidentified Western diplomats.

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The diplomats said funding, a third of the annual US donation to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, was supposed to be delivered by Jan. 1 but was frozen until the administration of US President Donald Trump finishes its review of US aid to the Palestinian Authority.

“There is no existing schedule that obligates the US to provide specific amounts of aid to UNWRA on specific dates,” but the matter ultimately lies with the secretary of state, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. “At this time no such decisions have been made.”

Last week, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley threatened to cut funding to UNRWA until the Palestinians return to the negotiating table with Israel.
US threatens to withhold aid cash to Palestinians, January 3, 2018 (Reuters)

The PA has repeatedly said that it was no longer viewing the US as a viable broker, following President Donald Trump's announcement that the US recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move it's embassy to the city.

The president "doesn't want to give additional funding or stop funding until the Palestinians agreeing to come back to the negotiating table," she said. "We're trying to move for a peace process. But if that doesn't happen, the president's not going to continue to fund that situation."

Trump also took to Twitter to echo Haley's statement, saying that the US gives the Palestinians "HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect

After declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital last month Trump warned foreign nations against condemning the new US policy through a vote in the UN General Assembly. A vote proceeded anyway, with a majority voting against it, which prompted Trump to threaten the international body with a massive aid cut.

As of last year, 22% of the UN's annual budget comes from US aid.

UNRWA works with Palestinian refugees and their descendants in the West Bank. Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip.

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