Trump will threaten UN bodies over Palestinian membership

The move, first reported in the New York Times, would create a committee tasked with reviewing US aid to the international bodies and programs.

By
January 25, 2017 23:02
1 minute read.
trump oval office white house

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump is preparing an executive order that would halt all US funding to UN agencies that recognize the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization as a full member.

The move, first reported in the New York Times, would create a committee tasked with reviewing US aid to the international bodies and programs. The order specifically calls for a review of aid to UN peacekeeping efforts.

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But the terms of this executive order have already been codified in US law, according to former Obama administration officials, who were compelled to cut funding to UNESCO after the body accepted Palestine as a full member in 2011.

At the time, Victoria Nuland, then spokesman for the State Department, said the US was following longstanding congressional restrictions that required an immediate halt to its aid.
Trump: "We have to protect Israel"

One 1990 appropriations law reads: "No funds authorized to be appropriated by this act or any other act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states."

Legislation in 1994 expanded on this language, barring Congress from funding "any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood."

The Palestinians enjoy "non-member state" status at the UN, which grants them limited operational freedoms. Washington funds roughly 22 percent of the UN's overall annual budget.



Trump's consideration of this executive order, titled “Auditing and Reducing US Funding of International Organizations,” pairs with a Senate effort to legislate similar threats against the UN over its actions targeting Israel. That effort, led by senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, gained steam after the Obama administration last month abstained from a Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlement enterprise.

The executive order would also target organizations that circumvent sanctions against Iran, or that support reproductive rights.

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