US wants to cut aid to UN refugee agency to force Palestine into talks with Israel

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The US wants to stop funding a UN agency aiding millions of Palestinian refugees to coerce Palestine into talks with Israel. The negotiations soured after Washington’s contentious recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

President Donald Trump appears to be on course to punish the United Nations after most UN member states refused to endorse the US President’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Trump now wants to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) which has received over $5 billion in US aid since 1994. In 2016, the US gave the agency over $368 million.

“The President has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiating table,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in New York Tuesday. “What we saw with the resolution was not helpful to the situation. We’re trying to move for a peace process, but if that doesn’t happen, the president is not going to continue to fund that situation.”

Haley’s statement come on the heels of Trump’s tweet rebuking Palestinians for not showing enough “appreciation or respect” to the US after he had “taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.” Trump also suggested ending the payments of “HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year.”

In the days following Trump’s December 6 announcement on the status of the Holy City and his orders to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, the US vetoed a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution which called for a reversal of Washington’s decision. Opposition to the new American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took center stage on December 21, when the UN General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly voted in favor of a non-binding resolution calling on the US to rescind its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Only nine states voted against the UNGA resolution while 35 nations abstained.

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