US blasts Arabs for 'not doing enough for Palestinians'
The US ambassador to the United Nations criticised Middle Eastern countries for not doing enough to help Palestinians and move the peace process forward on Tuesday, saying that they need to "step up."
Nikki Haley slammed Arab countries who made “speeches thousands of miles away” instead of stepping up to “really help Palestinians.
"Where are the Arab countries when it comes to encouraging reconciliation between Palestinian factions, which is essential to peace? Where are the Arab countries when it comes to denouncing Hamas terrorism? Where are the Arab countries when it comes to supporting compromises that are necessary for peace?" Haley said at a monthly meeting of the UN Security Council on the Middle East.
Haley took the opportunity to boast about American assistance to the Palestinians, noting that Washington provided $300 million in bilateral aid last year, and "over six billion - with a B - dollars in bilateral assistance to Palestinians" since 1993.
She also mentioned US aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) however failed to mention the recent funding cuts to the group.
Since January, US financing for humanitarian programs serving Palestinians has been suspended.
"How much have the Arab countries - some of whom are wealthy countries - how much have they given to the Palestinians?" she asked.
"Last year, Iran's contribution to UNRWA was zero. Algeria's contribution to UNRWA was zero. Tunisia's contribution to UNRWA was zero," Haley said.
But her French counterpart Francois Delattre soon put her on the spot by asking the US to reconsider its decision to cut aid to UNRWA, calling on Washington "to shoulder its responsibilities" to help fill the agency's estimated $200 million gap.
Meanwhile, the allegations were dismissed by Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi who noted the kingdom has over the past two decades provided "$6 billion to the Palestinians in humanitarian assistance, development aid and relief.”
And for UNRWA, it was $1 billion during the same period, he added.
Olof Skoog of Sweden, the current president of the Security Council, let his frustration with US policy show, saying: "Everyone is waiting for a credible peace plan."
"We haven't seen that yet. It is now about a year since we were informed about a plan and we have not seen it yet. It is a problem that there is no credible plan on the table," Skoog said.Israel's ambassador, Danny Danon, meanwhile demanded international condemnation of militant group Hamas, while his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Mansour denounced the law recently passed by the Israeli parliament defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Set up in 1949, UNRWA provides schools and health clinics to 5.3 million refugees in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
More than 500,000 children study at UNRWA schools - 54 percent of the agency's budget goes to education. UNRWA also provides medical assistance and welfare.
The agency employs more than 20,000 people in the Middle East, most of them Palestinians.
UNRWA was thrown into severe financial crisis when the United States earlier this year cut $250 million from its budget.
In June, reports said UNRWA needs more than $200 million to fund projects until the end of the year, noting extra pledges so far have been unable to minimise the massive slash in donations from the US.