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US fails to make payment to UN agency that works with Palestinians

Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, voting at the Security Council Sept. 11, 2017. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

After threatening to cut off aid, the Trump administration has failed to make a scheduled payment to the United Nations refugee agency that works with Palestinians, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

A disbursement of about $120 million was scheduled to be made on Jan. 2, and all the paperwork for such a transaction had already been completed. But the payment did not happen, the person said, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss internal matters.

The U.S. has not formally notified the organization, U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), of a final decision on whether funding will be discontinued or maintained, the person said.

President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, have threatened to freeze aid to the Palestinians as punishment for their refusal to accept Trump’s Dec. 6 decision to declare the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians also claim part of the city for their capital in a future independent state.

UNRWA pays for schools, clinics and other programs for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in five countries or entities. The U.S. supplies roughly a third of UNRWA’s budget, or about $300 million annually.

The State Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment.


© 2018 Los Angeles Times

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