USA aid cuts meant to arm-twist Palestinians

A view of Jerusalem Old City seen from Mount of Olives Dec. 6 2017

The delay could be purely symbolic, since the US has a few more weeks before it must make the payment.

Haley and the administration were also angered by action at the UN General Assembly in December, in which member states voted 128-9 to condemn Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the USA embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The United States has frozen $125 million in funding for a UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees, Axios news site reported on Friday, but a State Department official said no decision had been made on the payment. "They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

Trump tweeted on January 2 that the USA pays the Palestinians "HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year" and gets "no appreciation or respect" in return.

Most nations view the status of Jerusalem, parts of which are claimed by the Palestinians, as an issue to be determined in final peace negotiations.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have called for maintaining the historical and legal status of Jerusalem, amid tension following US decision to recognize the holy city as Israel's capital.

The Palestinian side, on the other hand, should also follow new policies, Awad said.

Six Arab countries have pledged to seek global recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel since 1967 - might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Jordan, he said, will continue to safeguard the holy sites in the city.

Australia supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. All countries have so far located their embassies in Tel Aviv, in order to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, later told reporters the administration would cut off aid if the Palestinians refused to take part in peace talks with Israel.

Okal believes that the Palestinians should put their differences aside and adopt a unified strategy to counter the growing challenges that endanger the future of the Palestinian cause.

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