• Global geopolitical series: U.S. freezes $65 million aid to Palestinian refugees

    Source: FxWire Pro - Commentary / 17 Jan 2018 01:40:10   Eastern Standard Time

    The United States has followed up on President Trump’s threat to cut off aid to Palestinian refugees in response to Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) refusal to come to the negotiating table. Earlier this year, after criticizing Pakistan for its alleged failure to counter terrorism, Trump aimed at PLO, tweeting, “It's not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue... ...peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

    His administration seems to make good on the threat as it announced a halt of $65 million in aid to Palestinian refugees. Washington officially announced Tuesday that it is freezing the funds “for future consideration.” It was initially reported that the United States would cut off aid to the tune of $125 million. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has received over $5 billion in US aid since 1994. In 2016, the US gave the agency over $368 million and financed more than 30 percent of its overall budget. UNRWA is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions from UN member states.

    In response to President Trump’s threat, Palestinian donor nations called a foreign ministerial meeting on January 31st. The meeting would be chaired by Norway and would be attended by European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.