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Allies plan U.N. meeting to work around Trump Palestinian aid cut-off

September 18, 2018

A group of European and Middle Eastern allies of the United States announced plans to meet on the sidelines of next week’s U.N. General Assembly gathering in New York to discuss how to make up the shortfalls after the Trump administration cut off all funding for aid to Palestinian refugees.

The State Department announced Aug. 31 that it was ending all U.S. payments to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, known as UNRWA, and close the Palestinian Authority’s de facto embassy in Washington, citing problems with the funding, the way refugees are counted, and the refusal of Palestinian leaders to engage in a U.S.-sponsored peace deal with Israel.

“We are trying to close the gap,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara while meeting with his Jordanian counterpart, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Tuesday. “We will make efforts not to leave Palestinian refugees alone.”

The U.S. has long been UNRWA’s largest single funder, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the aid cut-off could affect some 5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in refugee camps in Jordan Lebanon and Syria.

Turkish officials said officials from Germany, Japan Sweden and the European Union are expected to attend the New York meeting.

The U.S. had been slated to contribute $365 million this year to UNRWA. The cutoff came shortly after the Trump administration slashed economic aid to the Palestinians by some $200 million.

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