The Daily Star (Lebanon)

Berri calls for unity in support of Palestine

Parliament speaker describes Trump’s Palestinia­n-Israeli peace plan as ‘slap of the era’

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BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri called on the Muslim and Arab worlds to fortify their positions in support of Palestine over the weekend.

Berri asked parliament­ary representa­tives at the 139th Inter-Parliament­ary Union Assembly in Geneva to unite against the “slap of the era” – aimed by U.S. President Donald Trump at the Palestinia­n cause.

“Nothing can give us hope to regain something or stop the socalled deal of the century – or slap of the era – but this unity,” Berri said, according to a statement from his press office. He was referring to what Trump has termed his vision for a Palestinia­n-Israeli peace plan, expected to be announced in the coming months.

Berri said the U.S. decision to stop funding the United Nations agency for Palestinia­n refugees was part of this “deal.”

“The UNRWA issue is part of the deal of the century – it is part of the pressure on our Palestinia­n people and brethren,” the speaker said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. suspended roughly $300 million in planned assistance to UNRWA, pending review. In recent years, the U.S. has supplied nearly 30 percent of UNRWA’s budget.

On Aug. 31, the country announced its decision to cut that money, as well as all future assistance, to the agency, leaving it with an estimated $200 million budget deficit.

The agency was establishe­d in 1950 to help Palestinia­n refugees who had lost their homes because of the 1948 conflict that created the state of Israel.

UNRWA continues to provide health care, education and social services to the 5.4 million Palestinia­ns in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank.

A meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September saw a handful of states pledge enough funds to almost entirely see the agency through to the end of the year. Canada pledged C$50 million ($38 million) in aid to UNRWA Friday.

Arab states have pledged funds and expressed continued support for the Palestinia­n cause since the U.S. cuts, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE each pledging around $50 million.

Jordan, which hosts 2.2 million Palestinia­n refugees, has said it will lead the campaign to raise funds for UNRWA. –

 ??  ?? “The UNRWA issue is part of the deal of the century – it is part of the pressure on our Palestinia­n people and brethren,” Berri said in Geneva.
“The UNRWA issue is part of the deal of the century – it is part of the pressure on our Palestinia­n people and brethren,” Berri said in Geneva.

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