Haley: Middle East states not doing enough for Palestinians

US Ambassador to UN says that more should be done by regional neighbours to move peace process forward

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses a United Nations General Assembly meeting ahead of a vote on a draft resolution that would deplore the use of excessive force by Israeli troops against Palestinian civilians at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
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US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday has said Middle Eastern countries need to do more to help Palestinians and move the peace process forward.

“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,” Ms 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.

Ms 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 (Dh1.1 billion) 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,” Ms 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 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,” Mr Skoog said.

Meanwhile, Israel Ambassador Danny Danon, 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.