Monday 17 December 2018

US president accused of 'targeting innocent' as Palestinian aid cut

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP

Raf Sanchez

Palestinians accused Donald Trump of "targeting the innocent" yesterday after the US announced it was withholding tens of millions of dollars from the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees.

The relationship between the two sides has all but collapsed since the US president recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital last month.

The US has traditionally been the largest donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), created in 1949 to support Palestinian refugees.

It had planned to give $120m (€98m) this year but announced this week that it was paying only $60m (€49m) and withholding the rest. Mr Trump complained on Twitter this month that the US gives the Palestinians "hundreds of millions of dollars a year and [gets] no respect. They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel".

Chris Gunness, an Unrwa spokesman, said the shortfall plunged the agency into "the most severe financial crisis" in its 70-year history and warned it could cause instability not only in the occupied West Bank and Gaza but also in Lebanon and Jordan. He said: "The potential consequences are nothing less than the stability of the Middle East. It could be catastrophic."

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian official, said the decision showed the US "has no compunction in targeting the innocent".

The agency plans to launch an emergency global appeal.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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