King Abdullah II tells Pompeo the international community must support UNRWA
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King Abdullah II tells Pompeo the international community must support UNRWA

Meeting with US secretary of state on sidelines of the UNGA in New York, Jordanian monarch says Palestinian refugee agency’s work must continue despite US cuts to funding

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, talks to Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, right, during a meeting at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in New York, Sept. 23, 2018, in New York. (Andres Kudacki via AP, Pool)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, talks to Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, right, during a meeting at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in New York, Sept. 23, 2018, in New York. (Andres Kudacki via AP, Pool)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday that the kingdom believes a two state solution is the only path to peace and that the international community must continue to support the Palestinian refugee agency recently defunded by the Trump administration.

“The international community must bear its responsibility to provide the support required by UNRWA in order to continue to provide services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in the fields of education, health and relief,” said the Jordanian king.

Meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the two also discussed the strategic partnership between their two countries and the royal reaffirmed his position that a future Palestinian state should have East Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to use his speech to the UN tomorrow to urge the international community to either save the two-state solution or take responsibility for its demise and “burial,” unnamed Palestinian sources told London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat Friday.

The sources said Abbas’s appeal for an international peace conference will be his final effort to save the peace process before he is forced to make “difficult decisions.”

However relatives of victims of Palestinian terror attacks have called on US President Donald Trump to bar Abbas from attending the UNGA.

“Abbas is the one person who is personally responsible for the monthly reward payments by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and the families of terrorists who murdered our loved ones,” the group, American Victims of Palestinian Terrorism, said in a letter.

The victims’ relatives said the decision to allow Abbas entry into the US was not only a “slap in the face” to those who have suffered from Palestinian terror, but also “in clear violation of the spirit and the letter of American law.”

Over the past few weeks the United States has cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians and canceled its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The US has also halted $25 million in aid to East Jerusalem hospitals, leading to warnings of the “collapse” of medical centers that provide crucial care to Palestinians.

The network, which is made up of six hospitals in East Jerusalem, provides healthcare such as cancer treatment and surgeries for Palestinians to whom such medical assistance is unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the World Health Organization.

Palestinian school children chant slogans and raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the West Bank on September 5, 2018. The United States, the biggest contributor to the UNRWA, announced on August 31 that it was halting all funding to the organization, which it labeled ‘irredeemably flawed.’ (AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER)

Trump said earlier this month that aid to the Palestinians will remain withheld until the Palestinians “make a deal with Israel.”

None of the cuts, however, directly targeted aid meant for the internationally recognized PA, which last month received some $42 million in frozen funds for security cooperation with Israel.

Though hailed by Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the cuts are said to be opposed by defense officials, who fear they could fuel Palestinian unrest and in turn jeopardize Israel’s security.

Furthermore, the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington ceased operations last week following a demand by the United States to shut down in a bid to pressure the Palestinians to enter peace talks with Israel.

The move to not grant the mission its normal six-month renewal came after Palestinian leaders allegedly breached the arrangement by calling for Israeli officials to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration and rebuffed its peace efforts since the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of last year. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem — which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed — as the capital of their future state.

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