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Middle East Palestine vows resistance after US aid cut

PALESTINIAN President Mahmoud Abbas declared today that he will pursue “all options available” to secure Palestine’s freedom, but not violence or terrorism.

Speaking to the Al-Azhar international conference in support of Jerusalem in Cairo, Mr Abbas reaffirmed Monday’s vote by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Central Council to withdraw from the Oslo peace accords and cease recognition of the Israeli state.

“We will not trust the American administration which is no longer suitable for the role of mediator of the peace process,” Mr Abbas told the conference in Egypt, as quoted by the Wafa news agency.

“We will adhere to peace, but peace shall not be at any cost, and we will seek all options but not terrorism and violence.”

Mr Abbas insisted that US President Donald Trump’s decision last month to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel did not give Israel “any legitimacy” in its claim over the holy city.

“America chose to violate international law and defy the will of the Arab and Islamic peoples and the world to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli occupation,” he added.

Mr Abbas’s speech comes after the US State Department announced yesterday that it is cutting $65 million (£47m) in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

UNRWA supports more than five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants who have been driven out of their homeland over the past 80 years since the Israeli state was founded in 1948.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert claimed the cuts were not “aimed at punishing anyone,” but demanded a “fundamental re-examination” of the agency’s work.

However today PLO executive and veteran peace envoy Hanan Ashrawi said Washington was “targeting the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and depriving the refugees of the right to education, health, shelter and a dignified life.”

Meanwhile the Ofer Israeli military court in the occupied West Bank extended the detention without trial of 16-year-old schoolgirl Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested on December 19 for slapping two occupation troops, until the end of the month.

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