American Arab group condemns USA cut in aid to United Nations agency

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A spokesperson from the US State Department, Heather Nauert said that the move to withhold aid to Palestine was never aimed to be a punishment to anyone. "At stake is the access of 525,000 boys and girls in 700 UNRWA schools, and their future".

The head of UNRWA on Wednesday responded by saying that the agency would launch a global fundraising campaign to ensure that its schools and clinics remained open in 2018 and beyond. "O$3 ur main point today is asking other countries to step up to the plate, not making the United States be the single largest donor or the sole donor, and other countries to step in and do more".

Despite the decision on the food aid pledge, she said: "We are the most generous country on the planet".

But she declined to say whether the United States has given UNRWA a list of specific changes or reforms it needs to undertake to unlock the rest of the USA funding.

Last year, Haley assured UNRWA that the United States would maintain current levels of funding for its operations.

During the now-defunct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the PA demanded a return to the pre-1967 armistice lines, dubbed "Auschwitz borders" because they're indefensible, putting Jewish and Christian holy sites under Palestinian control and flooding the truncated Jewish state with thousands of "refugees", effectively eliminating it.

In a Twitter post on 2 January, Trump accused Palestinians of disrespecting the USA despite receiving millions of dollars in aid from Washington.

A statement issued by Hanan Ashrawi of the executive council of the Palestine Liberation Organization accused Washington of seeking to dismantle UNRWA at Israel's behest.

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"This administration is thereby targeting the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and depriving the refugees of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life", the statement continued.

But voluntary payments from the U.S. are the biggest single source of support for the 68-year-old body, and other USA officials opposed an immediate and total suspension.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, has praised the move saying it is good that the U.S.is challenging UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. Palestinian refugees number some 7 million, of whom 5.2 million are registered with UNRWA.

The United States pays the Palestinians "hundred of millions of dollars" a year, Trump wrote in all-capital letters on Twitter.

"We mentioned to UNRWA multiple times it needs to be reformed", Haley told Voice of America host Greta Van Susteren.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was "very concerned" about the impact on the region.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said cuts to UNRWA will "hamper the efforts towards a two-state political solution and regional stability", adding that Ankara will increase its contributions to the agency.

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