U.S. Rejects Palestinian Claim About ‘Financial Siege’

YERUSHALAYIM -

The U.S. State Department has refuted a claim made by the Palestinian Authority that Washington held back on funds promised in 2016, citing financial aid of over $357 million in the past year, The Times of Israel said on Sunday.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah last week accused the U.S. of imposing a “financial siege” on the Palestinians.

Hamdallah told the official PA radio station the Voice of Palestine on December 8 that his government has not seen any of the aid money approved by the U.S. in 2016.

“Since last year, there is a financial siege on the Palestinian government… For example, let’s speak frankly, the U.S. approved $263 million in 2016 as aid to the government. Look, 2016 is about to end, no shekel or agora, or dinar or dollar has been paid, if we speak frankly. We hope that this aid money will be paid,” he said, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch.

However, the State Department did in fact transfer over $357 million directly to the PA in 2016, according to a U.S. State Department official Thursday.

In addition, in 2016 alone, the U.S. contributed $355,177,827 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), of which $95 million was earmarked for the PA and Gaza. UNWRA also operates Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

In total, therefore, the U.S. gave around $712 million in regional aid to Palestinians in 2016, and is the world’s largest supplier of such aid.

Hamdallah’s office wasn’t available for a reaction to the State Department counter-claim.