U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. could cut off aid to the Palestinians if they continue to reject peace talks with Israel.
Haley told reporters at the U.N. on Tuesday that the U.S. remains committed to the peace process, but implied that America would cut off aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) if the Palestinians refuse to participate in negotiations.
“I think the president has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table,” Haley said. “We’re trying to move for a peace process, but if that doesn’t happen the president is not going to continue to fund that situation.”
Unlike all other global refugee situations, which are handled by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, self-described displaced Palestinians and their descendants have had their own dedicated U.N. agency that provides education and social services to refugees scattered throughout the Middle East. The U.S. is the largest donor to UNRWA, providing more than $368 million to the agency in 2016, as well as the leading donor to the Palestinians overall.
Haley’s comments follow last week’s decision by the U.N.’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee to reject an increase in funding for UNRWA after Israeli diplomatic efforts. Israel has accused UNRWA of promoting anti-Israel bias and incitement. In January 2017, textbooks used in UNRWA schools were revealed to reference Zionism as a foreign “colonial movement,” while denying the historical and religious connections between Jews and Israel.