Friday, 22 June, 2018

Netanyahu tiptoes around US threat to cut off Palestinian aid

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Sammy Stanley | 10 January, 2018, 13:17

"UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees", he said.

USA suspends $125mn UNRWA payment - report A report that Washington has frozen a $125 million payment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is being denied by a U.S. official, according to Reuters.

A committee made up of Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and headed by Jordan was set up after an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo shortly after Pres. Trump's decision, that called on Washington to abandon its decision.

The $125 million, a third of what the USA contributes annually, was supposed to be paid Monday. While Netanyahu apparently does not want to undermine Trump's positions, he "wants to steer bewteen the desire to publicly back Trump and to prevent a disaster in Gaza". The sentiments were echoed by the United States envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley.

"They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel", the USA leader added. The Axios news website reported that Washington had frozen $125 million in funding for the UNRWA, a report denied by a State Department official.

Six Arab foreign ministers met in Amman to follow up on earlier decisions taken by the Arab League to counter U.S. President Donald Trump's move in December to recognize Yerushalayim as Israel's capital.

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The US is the largest donor to UNRWA, with a pledge of almost $370 million as of 2016, according to the organisation's website. "There are still deliberations taking place, and we have until mid January to decide what we are going to do".

Recently, Trump threatened to cut financial aids to Palestine, accusing the country of standing against peace talks with Israel.

Jerusalem should be the shared capital of the "Israeli and Palestinian states", British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday, following a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel since 1967 - might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Privately, however, Netanyahu urged Trump not to enact the cuts, according to the. A senior Israeli official told him that the "humanitarian situation in Gaza is complicated enough and harming UNRWA funding will only make it more complicated". The threat to cut US funding to the Palestinian refugee agency came last week, another result of the U.N. General Assembly condemning, at the Palestinian delegation's behest, Trump's recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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