The United States has withheld tens of millions of dollars in money from a United Nations agency tasked with providing services for Palestinian refugees.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump held back 65 million dollars of a planned 125-million-dollar funding installment meant for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Tuesday, two weeks after Trump warned to cut off future payments if Palestinians reject negotiations with Israel.
The U.S. State Department claimed that the decision was not taken to pressure Palestinian leaders and served as a call on other countries to step forward and do more to help the Palestinian refugees.
"This is not aimed at punishing anyone," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters. "The United States government and the Trump administration believe that there should be more so-called burden-sharing to go around.”
The department also sent a letter to UNRWA demanding that the agency undergo major changes and describing the reforms as a condition of releasing more money.
Earlier in the day, the UNRWA had announced a forced layoff of more than 100 employees in Jordan because of the U.S.’s refusal to allow the transfer of financial aid to the agency.
Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official, immediately denounced the Tuesday move as a deliberate effort to deny Palestinians their rights.
Relations between the U.S. and Palestine have been strained over the past weeks since Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowed to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
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This article has been adapted from its original source.
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