US President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to a UN refugee agency is tantamount to an attack on the Palestinian people and international law, Palestine’s foreign minister stated.
Riyad al-Maliki slammed the US on Tuesday for withholding more than $ 200 million from the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a UN agency that provides humanitarian aid for more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees.
“The US administration has begun to attack the Palestinian people and international law,” the official said at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, convened to discuss the agency’s funding setback.
The cuts, which were announced last month, will ensure that funds are spent “in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the US taxpayer,” the state department said in August. Washington has argued that funding the UN aid agency is not viable as long as Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by the US and Israel, controls Gaza.
The Trump administration has repeatedly clashed with the Palestinian leadership over a number of contentious issues, including the US’ decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While the administration has taken issue with UN efforts to provide relief to Palestinians, the US has simultaneously used its membership on the UN Security Council to defend Israel from international scrutiny.
In April, the US was the only Security Council member to reject a call by 14 other countries to launch an independent probe into Israel’s killing of Palestinian protestors at the Gaza border.
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