Cairo: Arab countries will step in to help the UN agency serving Palestinian refugees after the US’s decision to cut off funding, Egypt’s foreign minister said, as President Donald Trump’s allies seek to contain the fallout of his attempt to re-write the rules that have underpinned decades of peace talks.
The Trump administration said last month it would not make additional contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, the latest US measure that critics say risks sparking violence between Palestinians and Israelis. The US provided more than $364 million in funding to UNRWA in 2017.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, whose country has been a key mediator in the peace process over the past 25 years, said “commitments were made by Arab and non-Arab states to fill the gaps that have been created by the withdrawal of American support.”
The decision highlights the trade-off that traditional US Arab allies have to make in dealing with the current administration.
In addition to the UNRWA decision, the US has recognised occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, dealing a blow to Palestinian claims to the eastern part of the city as part of their future state. The administration has also said the Palestinian demand for millions of refugees and their descendants to return should be ruled out.
“There is an obligation on everyone to avoid violence to work to achieve stability and to consolidate the peace but definitely there are many pressures that are created by unilateral decisions,” Shoukry told Bloomberg TV in Cairo.
He described Egypt’s ties with the US as a strategic relationship that has “endured now for four decades” but said the two nations don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye across the board.