American Arab group condemns United States cut in aid to United Nations agency

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The agency is now confronted with a massive unpaid bill at a time when it is facing huge cuts from the Trump administration for its education and health care programs and uncertainty over further US giving.

The U.S. State Department announced on Tuesday it was withholding $65 million in aid to Palestine.

Ms. Anderson, who is from Derry, described the decision taken by the Trump administration as "deplorable" and predicted it would have a "devastating impact" on people living in Palestine.

A Palestinian official quickly criticised Washington's decision to withhold some of the money and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was unaware of any change on aid but he was "very concerned" about the possibility of a cut in funding.

In a statement, he said: "At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip".

A statement by the Palestine National Liberation movement (Fatah) in a press release said that this US action will restrict the work of UNRWA and threaten severe deprivation putting Palestinian refugees at even more serious risk. The move comes just a fortnight after the USA 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. In an effort to bridge the gap, Tillerson proposed during a luncheon last week with Trump splitting the difference and giving the U.N. $60 million, just under half of the $125 million the United States was due to pay UNRWA on January 1. De Croo said the allocation was made in response to the US funding cut which left UNRWA with a payment of just $60 million for the first of two annual contributions to its budget.

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That came after the Palestinian Authority said President Trump's plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem disqualifies America as an unbiased mediator for Mideast peace. Trump also added that "with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

For now, the Trump administration has yet to inform the United Nations whether it will abide by its promise to pay for the food aid or whether its commitment will be subject to a new review in the wake of Trump and Haley's demands that the Palestinians pledge peace talks in exchange for humanitarian assistance.

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

"First of all, UNRWA is not a Palestinian institution, it is a United Nations institution", he said at a United Nations press conference Tuesday. Israel and the U.S. accuse UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it. That means the United States withheld $65 million from that installment, calling into question the remaining US contribution, which reached approximately $350 million in 2017.

The Alliance of Baptists' Community for Justice in Palestine & Israel urged members to write letters asking Congress to reject any USA funding cuts for UNRWA and to reverse the administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.