The drama over whether or not the Trump administration is about to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority, or to the United Nations agency that provides it, continues.
In this week’s episode, the U.S. State Department denies a report Friday by the Axios news website that $125 million in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was frozen in response to the unwillingness by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace talks with Israel. PA officials called the move “blackmail.”
A State Department official said no decision on funding to the agency had been made.
Israel’s Channel 10 television news site also reported that funds which should have been transferred to the agency at the start of January, were frozen.
The issue allegedly is “under review” in the White House.
A senior Israeli official has told Reuters, meanwhile, that “Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] supports a gradual cut to UNRWA,” speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a brief statement that Netanyahu “supports President Trump’s critical approach and believes that practical steps should be taken to change the situation in which UNRWA is perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem rather than resolving it.”
According to the UNRWA website, the United States is the largest donor to the agency, having pledged nearly $370 million in 2016.