Washington: The United States on Tuesday said it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give a United Nations agency that serves the Palestinians, two weeks after President Donald Trump questioned the value of such funding.

The State Department announced it would provide $US60 million ($75 million) to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency while withholding a further $US65 million for now, saying the aid group needed to make unspecified reforms.

The agency funds schools and health clinics that serve nearly two million people in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As funding declined recently, the agency began significant layoffs of teachers and health workers.

Palestine Liberation Organisation official Wasel Abu Youssef immediately criticised the US move, casting it as a deliberate effort to deny the Palestinians their rights and linking it to Trump’s widely criticised December 6 decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Read the full article by Arshad Mohammed at the Brisbane Times.

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