US weighs cutting UN funding after Palestinians joins agencies

The United States is reportedly mulling over cutting funding to two UN agencies and the world’s chemical weapons watchdog after Palestinians joined the organizations.

“It has been the consistent position of the United States that efforts by the Palestinians to join international organizations are premature and counterproductive,”
AFP cited an unnamed US official as saying on Wednesday.

“We will review the application of US legislative restrictions related to Palestinian membership in certain UN agencies and organizations,” the official added.

The US legislation bars funding for UN agencies or affiliates that grant membership to Palestine.

His remarks came after Nickolay Mladenov, the UN coordinator for the Middle East, told the Security Council that the Palestinians had joined the UN trade development organization (UNCTAD), industrial development agency (UNIDO) and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is upheld by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Palestinians have the status of a non-member observer state at the United Nations that allows them to seek membership of agencies and become a party to international treaties.

The US cut off funding to UNESCO when the Palestinians accepted into the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization in 2011 and last year quit the agency altogether.

This year, Washington cut off $125 million in funding for to the UN Palestinian refugee agency, leaving the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) struggling to fill a major budget gap for its education and health programs.

The Palestinians angered Israel when they joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) in January 2015.

They have asked prosecutors at the ICC to probe the human rights violations linked to the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki submitted the “Referral” which he said detailed evidence of crimes committed on occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The tribunal has been conducting a preliminary probe into crimes in the Palestinian territories since 2015.The probe covers Tel Aviv’s actions during the regime full-scale war of 2014 against the Gaza Strip.

The Referral could speed up a decision on whether to open a full-blown investigation that could ultimately lead to the indictment of high-ranking Israelis, The Washington Post reported.

The occupied territories have witnessed new tensions ever since US President Donald Trump on December 6, 2017 announced Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and said the US would move its embassy to the city.

The dramatic decision triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.

Muslim leaders have called for an international force to be deployed to protect Palestinian people against Israeli crimes.

Some 110 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured during the six-week “March of Return” protests that first began on March 30 near the fence separating Gaza from the Israeli-occupied territories.

At least 65 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on May 14 as they protested the US decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

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