Nikki Haley accuses Arab nations of failing to give aid to Palestinians

#Refugees

The US envoy to the UN says big talk is not backed up by proper financial aid as Trump administration slashes funding to refugee agency

Haley also called out China and Russia for talking 'a big game about the Palestinian cause' (AFP)
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Wednesday 25 July 2018 10:52 UTC
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Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, has slammed Arab and Muslim-majority states for not backing up their high-minded rhetoric on Palestine with cold hard cash.

Speaking on Tuesday, Haley said that countries like Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, talked about supporting Palestinians, but did not help enough financially.   

The American diplomat listed how much those countries, along with Algeria, Tunisia, Pakistan, Oman, Iran and Turkey, had given - or not given - to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which aids Palestinian refugees.

Washington, long the biggest donor, cut its aid to $60m from a promised $365m this year. UNRWA has warned that vital services, including education, will be have to be slashed unless the shortfall is made up.

"No group of countries is more generous with their words than the Palestinians' Arab neighbours, and other OIC member states," Haley told a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East, referring to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

"But all of the words spoken here in New York do not feed, clothe, or educate a single Palestinian child. All they do is get the international community riled up," she said.

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Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Haley had insulted US allies "in an arrogant way".

Haley also called out China and Russia for talking "a big game about the Palestinian cause", but providing only $350,000 and $2m respectively to UNRWA in 2017. China's UN Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu told the council: "We have no intention of competing with any other countries."

Haley said it was time for the "regional states in particular to step up".

According to IRIN, a nonprofit that reports on humanitarian issues, the UAE and Kuwait were ranked in the top five most generous aid donors compared with national income globally in 2017, while the United States came in at 16.

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"Sometimes the numbers and facts talk for themselves," said Kuwait's UN Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi.

UAE UN Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh agreed with Haley that real action was needed to assist the Palestinian people.

"With our total donation of more than $125 million just last year, we believe that we are doing our part to address the immediate needs of the Palestinians," she said.

US President Donald Trump withheld UNRWA aid after questioning its value and saying that the Palestinians needed to agree to renew peace talks with Israel, while the State Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.

When the US slashed its UNRWA aid earlier this year, Haley said at the time that it was to force the Palestinians "to come back to the negotiation table" with Israel.

Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser, said late last month that Washington would announce its Middle East peace plan soon.

"It is now gone about a year since we discussed this here and we were informed about plans and we haven't seen it yet," Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog, president of the Security Council for July, told reporters. "I think there is a problem that there's no credible plan on the table."