CAIRO (Dispatches) – Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA was an attack on international law.
The U.S. decision has left UNRWA seeking a shortfall of $200 million from Persian Gulf and European states and has further strained tensions between the Trump administration and Palestinian leadership.
Ties with Washington have sharply deteriorated since Trump last year decided to recognize al-Quds as the Zionist regime’s capital, reversing decades of U.S. policy and prompting Arab warnings that it could fuel crises in the region. The international community criticized the move.
"The U.S. administration has begun to attack the rights of the Palestinian people and international law,” Maliki said at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo convened to discuss the issue.
The so-called peace talks between the Zionist regime and the Palestinians have stalled since 2014 and Zionst settlements in the occupied territories have steadily expanded.
Palestinian leaders say their political situation has deteriorated since Trump took office in 2017 as Washington has pursued policies that favor the Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is a close U.S. ally.
Meanwhile, the U.S. announced closure of Palestinian mission in Washington. The U.S. State Department announced it is ordering the closure of the Washington mission of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a move that has drawn strong reaction from Palestinians.
"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Monday.
"However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” she stated.
The statement accused PLO leaders of failing to engage with American efforts to establish peace between Palestinians and Zionists and attempting to prompt an investigation of the regime by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Meanwhile in a speech on Monday, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced punitive measures against any anti-Israeli action by the ICC.
Bolton threatened imposing harsh sanctions against the ICC in case it decides to move ahead with requests to investigate the U.S. and Israel.
A senior Palestinian official called the decision a "dangerous escalation.”
"We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying," Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat said in a statement to news organizations in advance of Bolton’s speech.
"Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes,” he stated.
A Palestinian man stands in front of the emblem of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) outside the agency’s offices in Gaza on July 31, 2018.