US criticises Arab states for not helping Palestinians
UNITED NATIONS - US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday criticized Middle Eastern countries for not doing enough to help Palestinians and move the peace process forward, saying that they need to "step up."
"It is time for the regional states in particular to step up and really help the Palestinian people, instead of just making speeches thousands of miles away," Haley said at a monthly meeting of the UN Security Council on the Middle East.
"Where are the Arab countries when it comes to encouraging reconciliation between Palestinian factions, which is essential to peace? Where are the Arab countries when it comes to denouncing Hamas terrorism? Where are the Arab countries when it comes to supporting compromises that are necessary for peace?" she said.
Haley highlighted American assistance to the Palestinians, saying that in addition to aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Washington provided $300 million in bilateral aid last year, and "over six billion -- with a B -- dollars in bilateral assistance to Palestinians" since 1993.
"How much have the Arab countries -- some of whom are wealthy countries -- how much have they given to the Palestinians?" she asked.
"Last year, Iran's contribution to UNRWA was zero. Algeria's contribution to UNRWA was zero. Tunisia's contribution to UNRWA was zero," Haley said, without mentioning the significant reduction in the US contribution to the agency this year.
Her French counterpart Francois Delattre asked the US to reconsider that decision, calling on Washington "to shoulder its responsibilities and maintain its commitments on this crucial issue" to help fill the estimated $200 million gap in UNRWA.
Olof Skoog of Sweden, the current president of the council, let his frustration with US policy show, saying: "Everyone is waiting for a credible peace plan."
"We haven't seen that yet. It is now about a year since we were informed about a plan and we have not seen it yet. It is a problem that there is no credible plan on the table," Skoog said.
Israel's ambassador, Danny Danon, meanwhile demanded international condemnation of militant group Hamas, while his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Mansour denounced the law recently passed by the Israeli parliament defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.