The US Congress has reportedly decided to withhold USD 200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to Ramallah’s bid for UN statehood.
The decision to freeze the payments was made by three congressional committees on August 18, prior to the PA’s bid to win recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the United Nations in September, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
The money, intended to fund food aid, health care, and infrastructure projects, were supposed to have been transferred within the US financial year ending on Saturday.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the move and questioned Washington’s outrage at the Palestinians’ effort for an independent state on the borders prior to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967.
"It is another kind of collective punishment which is going to harm the needs of the public without making any positive contribution," PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.
"It is ironic to be punished for going to the United Nations," he added.
The US Agency for International Development has reduced its aid operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while some predict that the organization may halt its distribution of financial support to the Palestinian Authority by January.
On September 23, acting PA Chief Mahmud Abbas presented the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the statehood proposal during the UN General Assembly’s 66th annual session in New York.
Later in the day, the council met for only two minutes to discuss the request, despite its emergence as the focal point of the session.
The PA has reportedly secured the support of ten of the UNSC’s membership with India, Nigeria, Gabon, and Bosnia most recently siding with the Palestinians on the issue.
However, the United States, among the Security Council’s five permanent members, which have veto powers, has vowed to thwart the bid. France and the UK, other permanent UNSC members, had also urged Abbas not to go ahead with the initiative.
Tel Aviv’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor also acknowledged on Wednesday that the Israeli regime was working with the US to ensure that the UNSC members would either oppose the bid or abstain from voting.