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UAE, Bahrain sharply decreased aid to Palestinians following normalization with Israel: Report

Palestinians hold placards during a protest against food aid cuts by UNRWA in front of the UN organization’s offices in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, on February 4, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have dramatically slashed their financial assistance to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after the two Persian Gulf states agreed to clinch US-brokered deals to normalize ties with Israel last August.

Israeli Channel 12 television network, citing Center for Near East Policy Research, reported on Friday that while the UAE funded the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) $53 million and $51 million in 2018 and 2019 respectively, it provided the agency a mere $1 million last year.

The report added that Bahrain had also cut funds, but did not provide any figures. UNRWA confirmed the account.

The report said the moves could be seen as an act of retaliation after the Palestinians condemned the two Persian Gulf states over their diplomatic ties with Israel, and accused them of treachery.

Back in September 2018, former US president Donald Trump made the abrupt announcement that his administration would halt funding to the United Nations’ agency assisting Palestine refugees across the Middle East.

Palestinian officials sharply criticized then US decision, calling it a “flagrant assault” against Palestinians.

Last month, Washington’s interim UN envoy, Richard Mills, said President Joe Biden intends to “restore US assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people,” without mentioning UNRWA.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by Trump at the White House on September 15 last year.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital view the deals as betrayal of their cause.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested the normalization deals with Israel, saying they will be fruitless as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation and refuse to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Abbas reiterated that there will be no peace, security or stability for anyone in the region unless the Israeli regime ended its occupation of Palestinian land, and Palestinians could restore their full rights as stipulated in international resolutions.

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