United States (Sputnik) – The United States will withhold more than $60 million in aid to the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a briefing on Tuesday.
“$65 million, that is money that will be held for future consideration,” Nauert said regarding UNRWA funding. “It’s money that’s being frozen at this time, it’s not being cancelled.”
The United States has committed a voluntary contribution of $60 million for 2018 to sustain schools and health services, Nauert said.
The decision by the United States is not a form of punishment, however, it would like to see changes made on how the relief agency operates, the spokeswoman added. Nauert also said Washington would like to see governments, especially those that criticized the United States for its decision on Jerusalem, to do more pertaining to UNRWA.
UNWRA is funded by voluntary contributions from the UN Member States and Washington is its largest single donor of financial aid. According to UNWRAdata, Washington pledged $368 million in 2016, the second largest donor was the European Union with $159 million, while Saudi Arabia contributed $148 million.
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump in a series of tweets cast doubt on the efficacy of the aid and blamed the Palestinians for the halt in talks with Israel.
Trump’s decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel triggered violent backlash across the Middle East including protests in the Gaza Strip and West Bank which left several dead and nearly 700 injured.
This report prepared by Sputnik