Palestinians Call U.S. Plan to Cut UN Aid a ‘Declaration of War’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a meeting of the Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Abbas said Wednesday he will ask the United Nations to endorse Palestinian independence this fall even if negotiations …
AP/Majdi Mohammed

(UPI) — A Palestinian Authority spokesman said Wednesday a move by the United States to cut financial assistance in the Middle East amounts to a declaration of war.

A reduction in U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — from $125 million to $65 million, unless Palestinian leaders return to negotiations with Israel — was part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump last week.

The United States has been the UNRWA’s largest contributor for decades.

Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the cut — and an additional $705 million in military aid to Israel — is “equivalent to a declaration of war on the Palestinian people.”

He added that the move will heighten tensions in the Middle East, and that statements against Palestinians by U.S. officials are a violation of international law.

Rudeinah also said the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem indicates the United States can no longer be regarded as an honest mediator.

The Palestinian Authority had hopes that Trump, with his unorthodox methods of diplomacy, could affect a solution in the Middle East.

The Dec. 6 decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem ended any attempt at a two-state solution, and provoked outrage and rioting in Gaza and the West Bank.

“Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” Abbas said at a December meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation “We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on, because it is completely biased towards Israel.”

Rudeinah’s comments came as India, which has stepped up its engagement with Palestine in recent months, announced an increase in UNRWA contribution from $1.5 million to $5 million per year, for three years.

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