From: Inside Story

Why is the US withholding aid for Palestinian refugees?

Palestinians say they are being punished for defying the US after its move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN members.

The United States is the single largest donor – last year, it gave more than $350m.

Its first instalment for 2018 was due this month. But this week, the administration of US President Donald Trump cut in half the $125m it had pledged. In addition, it suspended $45m in emergency food aid it had promised in December.

This all follows Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his threats to cut aid unless Palestinian leaders agree to resume talks.

So, is humanitarian aid being used for political blackmail?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom


Ammar Hijazi – Palestine’s assistant minister of foreign affairs

Karl Schembri – regional spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council

Graeme Bannerman – former Middle East analyst at the US State Department