The US Department of State. UU It is breaching a pledge to contribute $ 45 million in food aid, health services and other relief that it promised to deliver to Palestinian refugees in early January, in addition to the cuts announced earlier this week, according to people familiar with the matter.
In a letter dated December 17, State Department Comptroller Eric Hembree told the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that he would pay the money in response to an emergency appeal from the West Bank and Gaza. " at the beginning of January 2018 or before, "said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters of the Department of State.
But that money has now been frozen as part of the US demands. UU for changes in UNRWA. President Donald Trump questioned the value of sending that aid after Palestinian leaders said they would reject any US role in mediating peace talks with Israel after Trump announced plans to move the US embassy in Israel. from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
After much delay, the administration agreed this week to pay $ 60 million to the group to cover salaries and other administrative costs, while retaining an additional $ 65 million that is normally paid all at once.
But the $ 60 million that was provided can not be used for any other purpose. The $ 45 million now withheld leaves UNRWA in a bind because it had already purchased food aid and other supplies after receiving the December 17 commitment letter from the State Department.
A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the issue when asked on Thursday. The United States is by far the largest contributor to UNRWA, contributing more than $ 350 million last year. Administration officials say other countries should contribute more.
In a statement this week announcing the decision to withhold $ 65 million in UNRWA funds for now, the State Department called on other nations to "do their part and respond as necessary" if there were additional urgent needs.