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The United States has a responsibility to support Palestinians “living in such hardship,” a top U.S. official said. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said in a Jan. 24 meeting with Palestinian media in the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank that members of the United Nations had a duty to support the Palestinians. “We all, members of the United Nations, have a responsibility to support the Palestinian people who are living under occupation and living in such hardship,” said Burns, who recently announced he was retiring from the U.S. foreign service.

He pledged continued American support for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the Palestinian refugee-care body that is under fire in Congress for allegedly not doing enough to stop terrorist planning and incitement in its camps. Burns said the United States recently provided $40 million to support the camps.

Burns called Israel’s security fence, which the Palestinians have criticized because it cuts through parts of the West Bank, “a negative symbol of the problems of this part of the world.” Israel built the fence to prevent terrorist attacks.

He also reiterated U.S. criticism of Israel building in Har Homa, a Jerusalem neighborhood that borders Bethlehem.

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