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UNRWA downplays Israel's rhetoric, says its mandate comes from UN General Assembly

14 January 2018

Trump in early December reversed decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite warnings it would further drive a wedge between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Israeli leader said he first raised the issue with Washington's United Nations envoy Nikki Haley in June.

Britain's prime minister Theresa May has previously said she regards the decision by the USA to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital as "unhelpful" to prospects for peace in the region.

The top PLO official revealed that the upcoming PLO Central Council meeting will "define the relationship with Israel in all its aspects and how to confront the US decision".

The Swedish ambassador to the United Nations said on Tuesday he is concerned about the Trump administration's plans to review funding for a humanitarian agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees.

The threat to cut USA funding to the Palestinian refugee agency came last week, another result of the U.N. General Assembly condemning, at the Palestinian delegation's behest, Trump's recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "This is how to rid the world of UNRWA and deal with genuine refugee problems, to the extent that such remain", he added.

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In the same series of tweets, Trump complained that "we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect ..."

The King added that the issue of Jerusalem should be settled within the framework of a final settlement and a permanent peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis based on the two-state solution and according to global legitimacy resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace initiative.

Relations between Trump's White House and the Palestinians have soured since Trump's December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem, in the course of which he stressed that he was not prejudging future borders or the status of holy sites in the capital.

"Those who prophesied that the Arab and Muslim response to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital would be apocalyptic - waves of anti-American demonstrations, mass violence against USA citizens, institutions and interests, and the final and irrevocable end of American influence in the region", he added, "[they] seem to have been totally wrong".

Saeb Erekat told official Palestinian Authority radio that resuming negotiations with the United States is "unacceptable" and that Palestinians would reject all peace talks until Trump reverses his stance on Jerusalem. But the Egyptian tapes are seen as reinforcement of the new reality: Saudi Arabia - referred to by the Times as "the most influential Arab state" and the author of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative - has accepted Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem as has Egyptian President al-Sisi. After occupying the city's eastern part in the 1967 War, Israel annexed the territory and proclaimed it as its "eternal, undivided capital".

However, according to data available on the website of the United States Agency for International Development, US AID, the United States devotes about six times more in financial aid to Israel, a country that receives more than US $ 3,000 million annually from Washington.

UNRWA downplays Israel's rhetoric, says its mandate comes from UN General Assembly