US State Dept withholds $65M aid to Palestine

Following the U.S. failure to attract international support for its Jerusalem decision and following the embarrassment of the Trump administration at the United Nations General Assembly, where the U.S. was left isolated in the international realm, President Trump had threatened to cut aid to UN-member countries.

US State Dept withholds 65M aid to Palestine
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert. Anadolu Agency

On Tuesday 16 January the U.S. State Department announced that it will withhold a $65M aid to Palestine.

Following the U.S. failure to attract international support for its Jerusalem decision and following the embarrassment of the Trump administration at the United Nations General Assembly, where the U.S. was left isolated in the international realm, President Trump had threatened to cut aid to UN-member countries.

The first move came to the Palestine Authority, which has slammed the U.S. for its recent decision and has underlined that the U.S. is no longer party to the peace negotiations.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing, State Dept. spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters that the suspension of aid to Palestine is “being held for future consideration.”

The U.S. will transfer $60 million of what was originally a $125 million tranche of funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) while withholding the remaining $65 million.

Heather Nauert acknowledged that without the $60 million tranche, the refugee agency was at risk of shuttering.

She added that additional U.S. funding will depend on “some revisions” being made at the agency, which provides healthcare and social services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Claiming that the decision was not politically motivated or related to President Trump’s Jerusalem decision, Nauert claimed that it was rooted in “concern” over how the UNRWA is managed and how it spends its funds.

The spokesperson also added that the U.S. expected other countries to “step up to the plate” and provide more funding for the agency.

This move by the U.S. can be interpreted as a beginning to a slash in funding to international organizations as the President himself had said that following the loss at the UNGA, the U.S. would “re-consider” where and how it spends its money.

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