US withholds half aid package for UNRWA

ANI | Updated: Jan 17, 2018 06:00 IST

Washington DC [United States], Jan 17 (ANI): The U.S. State Department has announced that it was withholding USD 65 million out of a USD 125 million aid package earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

According to the Al Jazeera, in a letter that the department said additional U.S. donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA.

Those funds are "frozen for future consideration", Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, told reporters.

Earlier this month, Palestine rebuked Trump's claims of not providing financial aid to the country in the future, if they did not resume their negotiations with Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, told Palestine's WAFA news agency that 'Jerusalem and its holy places were not for sale.'

Abu Rudineh also said that Palestine was not against returning to negotiations with Israel, but said 'the real peace and negotiations should be based on Arab and international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative leading to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.'

"If the United States has any concern for its interests in the Middle East, it must abide by the principles and references of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, otherwise the U.S. will push the region to the abyss," he said.

Trump and his United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley threatened Palestine with cutting of financial funds to the Palestinians and the UNRWA to ensure that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table with Israel.

In a strongly-worded tweet, Trump had said: "We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?" (ANI)