The United States’ decision to withhold funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will seriously undermine efforts to meet the needs of refugees, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a UN news conference on Friday.
“This decision … seriously undermines efforts to meet the needs of the Palestinian refugees in the region,” Lavrov said through an interpreter. “We will consult with all concerned and see what we can do.”
The United States said this week it had decided to pay $ 60 million to UNRWA but would withhold another $ 65 million it was expected to make. The State Department said it would not provide an additional $ 45 million in food aid it had pledged to the Palestinians.
Trump said in a January 2 transcript that the United States gives the Palestinians “hundreds of millions of dollars a year and does not receive any respect or appreciation.”
“They do not even want to negotiate a long-delayed peace agreement with Israel.
“Given that the Palestinians are no longer willing to participate in peace talks, why do we offer any of these big payments to them in the future?”
The decision to block some funds is likely to make it harder to resume Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and further damage Arab confidence in the United States’ ability to play the role of honest broker.
The last talks between the two sides broke down in 2014, partly because of Israel’s objection to trying to reach a unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, including Israeli settlement construction on occupied land the Palestinians seek to establish their state on, and other factors.