U.S. withholds $65 million from United Nations aid for Palestine

U.S. withholds $65 million from United Nations aid for Palestine

U.S. withholds $65 million from United Nations aid for Palestine

But, even as U.S. officials said the decision was not aimed at the Palestinians but meant to provoke United Nations reform, Israel welcomed it as a victory for their arguments.

"The U.S. Administration seems to be following Netanyahu's instructions to gradually dismantle the one agency that was established by the global community to protect the rights of the Palestinian refugees and provide them with essential services", the PLO said in a statement.

The UNRWA provides health care, education, and various social services to Palestinians scattered in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

Ms. Anderson added: "This will only make the growing humanitarian crisis in Palestine even worse".

The Palestinian aid issue has divided the Trump administration's top national security team, with Jared Kushner - the president's son-in-law and top Middle East advisor - and Haley favoring a total cutoff of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees until the Palestinian Authority agrees to participate in US -brokered peace talks with Israel. The move comes just a fortnight after the United States president said that the U.S. does not get any form of respect or appreciation from the aid it gives to countries that are torn by conflict or natural disaster.

The Trump administration on Tuesday suspended $65 million for UNRWA, demanding it undertake a "fundamental re-examination". The administration also made clear that future donations from the US would be contingent on major reforms that will be implemented by the UNRWA.

But State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed on Tuesday that the USA government had written to UNRWA to inform it that it was withholding $65m out of a total of $120m in funding pledged as a "first tranche" in 2018.

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It is important to note that the US contribution to UNRWA represents neither support nor assistance to the Palestinian National Authority, to the Palestinian people in general or the development of the Palestinian economy.

In contrast to Trump and Haley, who directly linked aid cuts to political talks, State Department officials have insisted that the decision to reduce funding is about pushing UNRWA to enact management and financial reforms.

"This is not aimed at punishing anyone", spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

Brussels steps up with multi-year funding of Palestinian aid agency after United States cuts UNRWA funding by half. We would like other countries - in fact, other countries that criticise the United States for what they believe to be our position vis-a-vis the Palestinians, other countries that have criticised us - to step forward and actually help with UNRWA, to do more.

But although the agency is trying to lay the blame for the layoffs at America's doorstep, UNRWA had already made a decision to begin slashing expenses: an already ballooning deficit of $174 million preceded the US funding cut.

De Croo said the Belgian government stepped up in response to the urgent call for help by the commissioner-general of UNRWA, an agency that provides humanitarian help to millions of Palestinian refugees.

The decision, which has divided Israeli officials, was welcomed by Israel's United Nations ambassador, Danny Danon.

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