US has frozen $125 million aid for UN Palestinian refugees

(Photo by AFP)

The United States has frozen  $125 million in aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency as a sabotage to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to accept to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to reports, the aid was supposed to be delivered by January 1 but was being held up because the White House is angry over the Palestinians’ reaction to US President Donald Trump’s move.

The Axios news website reported that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was expected to be delivered on Monday, but was frozen until the White House finishes its review of aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Trump, in a number of tweets, has been recently threatening to cut Washington’s aid to Palestinians, claiming that the Palestinian Authority rejected peace talks with Israel.

 Quoting Western diplomats, reports said such a cut would be “a catastrophe” and would impact Palestinian refugees in camps in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Lebanon.

Top PLO official Saeb Erekat Wednesday said the US aid cut to UNRWA’s budget would “starve Palestinian children in refugee camps and deny their natural rights to health and education.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Office said: “Netanyahu supports President Trump’s critical attitude towards UNRWA and believes practical steps need to be taken in order to change the fact that UNRWA is being used to entrench the Palestinian refugee problem instead of solving it.”

However, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that his agency had not been “informed directly of a formal decision either way by the US administration.”

US State Department official also denied that the US would cut aids to the Palestinian refugees.

“Just because they were expecting the money on the first (of January), and they did not get it at that time, does not mean it was suspended or canceled,” the official told Reuters. 

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