Authoritative sources directly involved in the matter revealed that the U.S. State Department had accused the UNDP of publishing "false accusations" against the U.S. in the third report, which is finalized and ready for printing. The report has been held up since October due to this political problem. Last year the U.S. cut its funding of the UNDP by $12 million, to $89 million, making it clear that the cut reflected its displeasure with some of the contents of the Arab Human Development Report (AHDR).
UN officials believe that the report as it stands now is factual and fair. It has already been heavily edited to meet normal UN standards of fairness and accuracy, and in its present form it describes the impact of the Israel-Palestine and Iraq situations on sentiments and public opinion in the Middle East. The UN's dilemma is that it could never edit or change the text sufficiently to reflect Washington's view that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is "a man of peace" and that the American presence in Iraq is an act of "liberation," as one person involved in this matter noted privately. Yet publishing the report as it is would lead to a severe funding cut.
Khouri suggests that one option being considered is publishing the report under another institution. But either way, he says, the UNDP stands to be the major loser from this. In the meantime I will be meeting one of the report's main author's today or tomorrow. Stay tuned.