US: Mideast states not doing enough for Palestinians

US: Mideast states not doing enough for Palestinians
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Female Palestinian demonstrators stand amidst smoke during clashes along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018, on the sixth straight Friday of mass demonstrations calling for the right to return to their historic homelands. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

United Nations: US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday criticized Middle Eastern countries for not doing enough to help Palestinians and move the peace process forward, saying that they need to “step up.”

“It is time for the regional states in particular to step up and really help the Palestinian people, instead of just making speeches thousands of miles away,” Haley said at a monthly meeting of the UN Security Council on the Middle East.

“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 highlighted American assistance to the Palestinians, saying 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) — but without saying that total has been significantly cut.

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.

Her French counterpart Francois Delattre asked 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.

Saudi Arabia has over the past two decades provided “$6 billion to the Palestinians in humanitarian assistance, development aid and relief,” its ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, responded.

And for UNRWA, it was $1 billion during the same period, he said.

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.

Agence France-Presse