When 128 United Nations members voted to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the president and Ambassador Nikki Haley warned of consequences.
Now they’re coming.
ForeignPolicy.com reports the United States is proposing a sweeping reassessment of foreign aid that would withhold funds from nations that “vote against U.S. policies at the U.N.”
The report said the confidential internal memo was drafted by Haley’s staff.
“The move to make foreign aid conditional on political support follows a U.S. decision to cut tens of millions of dollars in assistance to Palestinian refugees, a cut made in retaliation for Palestine’s sponsorship of U.N. resolutions denouncing U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Haley now wants to apply a similar principle to decisions about aid to other needy countries,” the report said.
It quoted from the 53-page outline: “It is the opinion of the U.S. mission to the U.N. that all U.S. foreign assistance should be reevaluated to ensure that taxpayers dollars are spent to advance U.S. interests, not to fund foreign legacy programs that provide little or no return on investment.”
The memo cited the cuts to Palestinian aid as “a fulcrum from which we use our foreign assistance leverage and measure its impact.”
The Palestinian aid was cut mostly because the president was unhappy that Palestinian leaders were refusing to consider any compromises with Israel to establish Middle East peace.
The initial response to the funding cuts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was the threat of terrorism.
“If you end your assistance [Palestinians] become terrorists or refugees in Europe,” Abbas said then. “It’s either that or you continue to support UNRWA until the crisis ends. We are ready to begin negotiations. We beg you to help us so that we may not commit an act that goes against our beliefs and your beliefs.”
This week the Jerusalem Post reported that a drive for pledges from other countries to replace the money Trump withheld failed, so UNRWA officials are insisting that the U.S., once again, pay much more.
The Post said UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl said, “We hope the U.S will come up with more money.”
The new memo regarding overall foreign aid from the U.S., called “America First Foreign Assistance Policy,” cites Trump’s opinion that the world “takes advantage of U.S. largesse while opposing American goals,” the Foreign Policy report said.
The report said the document is “part of a broader interagency review of U.S. foreign assistance initiated by Trump, who appealed to Congress during his State of the Union address to ‘pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests and only go to America’s friends.’”
Haley’s staff outline notes that many times nations seek aid from the U.S. but still vote against U.S. interests in the U.N.
“The autopilot nature of many U.S. foreign assistance efforts is leaving far too much ‘low-hanging fruit’ that should be either eliminated or leveraged into greater support at the U.N. and elsewhere,” the memo explains.
Foreign Policy reported the plan suggests reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to dozens of nations that vote against the U.S. more than with the U.S. at the U.N.
“It notes that South Sudan, one of the top 10 recipients of U.S. aid in 2016, ‘votes for U.S. interests at the United Nations a paltry 47.9 percent of the time,’” the report said.
Identified are aid programs for infrastructure, education and energy projects.
Examples included: “A $3.1 million job training program in Zimbabwe, a $6.6 million climate change program in Vietnam, and a $4.9 million school construction program in Ghana.”
Those three countries, in fiscal 2016 alone, received $580 million from U.S. taxpayers even while opposing U.S. interests in the U.N.
The memo says there is no downside for America.
“If our warnings fail, then, as the president said, ‘we would save a lot of money,’” it states.
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton long has sought such a move.
“I’ve been of the view that votes in the United Nations should cost people, cost countries that vote against us,” he told Fox in an interview.
The president was simply following a 20-year-old U.S. law when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Previous presidents had not allowed the law to take effect.
At the time, the president warned that the vote could affect aid by the U.S., which funds 23 percent of the U.N. budget despite being one of 193 nations.
WND reported Haley said she would be “taking names” of nations that condemn the president’s decision.
At that time, the president said: “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.
“People are tired of the United States – people that live here that are great citizens that love this country – they’re tired of this country being taken advantage of. And we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”
Haley had said in a tweet: “At the U.N. we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”
As the vote approached, Haley told the assembly, “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.
“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”