Despite US cuts, Haley accuses world of failing to fund Palestinians
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Despite US cuts, Haley accuses world of failing to fund Palestinians

At Security Council, US envoy rebukes Iran and others for giving speeches but no cash to UNRWA; vows US won’t continue ‘feeding hands that bite’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN Headquarters, July 24, 2018 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN Headquarters, July 24, 2018 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday rebuked the international community for pontificating about the Palestinians’ suffering but failing to substantially support them financially, defending the US’s own cuts to Ramallah and Gaza.

At a session dedicated to the Middle East, Haley castigated the Muslim world and stressed that no other nation was giving nearly as much money to Palestinian causes as the US, even after the US drastically cut its support for the UN’s refugee agency for Palestinians and also slashed aid over stipends paid to terror convicts and their families.

“Country after country claims solidarity with the Palestinian people. If those words were useful in the schools, the hospitals, and the streets of their communities, the Palestinian people would not be facing the desperate conditions we are discussing here today,” Haley said. “Talk is cheap.”

Iran, Algeria, and Tunisia, for instance, last year contributed zero dollars to UNRWA, Haley said. Egypt gave $20,000, Turkey $6.7 million, and the United Arab Emirates $12.8 million.

“If you judge a nation’s commitment to the Palestinian people by the words heard in this chamber, you might come to the conclusion that the United States has been less generous, simply because we stand proudly with our ally Israel here at the UN,” Haley said.

“But once again, this conclusion would be entirely false.”

Just last year, the US donated $364 million to Palestinian causes, she said.

“And that’s on top of what the American people give annually to the Palestinians in bilateral assistance. That is another 300 million dollars just last year, and it averages to more than a quarter of a billion dollars every year since 1993,” she claimed.

Moments before Haley spoke, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said the Trump administration’s freezing of millions of dollars of funding earmarked for UNRWA had thrust the organization in dire straits.

UNRWA’s financial crisis “remains a very serious concern,” he told the council, speaking via satellite from his Jerusalem office.

“At present, UNRWA needs $217 million to sustain its work for this year. I urge the swift mobilization of support to enable the continuity of assistance and a maintenance of stability on the ground in the region,” he said.

Given the current shortfall, UNRWA might have to delay the start of the school year for some 526,000 students in schools run by the agency throughout its areas of operation, Mladenov warned.

In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post last week, US officials Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman said donors were unwilling to donate money to help Gaza’s humanitarian situation as long as Hamas remained in power.

The trio said the US would offer money to the beleaguered enclave in exchange for Hamas stopping terror activity and returning the captive Israelis and the remains of soldiers.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, warned that the UNRWA shortfall “could lead to serious consequences.”

The Russian envoy also reiterated his government’s willingness to facilitate a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow.

“The only possible way towards a settlement in the Middle East is a direct dialogue between the parties, we are ready to facilitate it,” he said. “Our initiative to hold a Palestinian-Israeli summit in Russia remains on table, it has already been supported by the Palestinian side.”

‘Imagine half of Manhattan going up in flames’

Haley also said that while the US supported Palestinians causes, the administration would not “feed the hand that bites” them, referring to bitter criticism by the Palestinian Authority on the White House’s policies toward the region.

“We are not fools,” she said.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon accused Hamas of burning over 7,400 acres of land with incendiary balloons and kites launched into Israel.

“Just imagine if half of Manhattan would go up in flames as a result of terrorism,” he said.

“Too many people in this building have forgotten what Hamas truly is: a murderous terrorist organization that terrorizes Israel and holds Gazans hostage,” Danon said.

“And as Hamas is a growing international problem, the time has come for the Security Council to recognize that Hamas is no different from al-Qaeda or ISIS. The Security Council must recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

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