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Trump administration cuts over $200 million in aid to Palestinians

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The US State Department announced on Friday that it would be cutting $200 million in funding to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, sparking outrage among Palestinian officials, who are still reeling from US cuts to UNRWA earlier this year.

Officials reportedly told US lawmakers that after review, the $200m in US assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for projects in the West Bank and Gaza would be re-routed to “high-priority projects elsewhere,” according to Reuters.

Reuters added that the order came from President Donald Trump, and that State Department officials did not confirm where the money would be going to.

While local and international media reported that the State Department made the announcement to lawmakers prior to journalists, as of Saturday, the agency had yet to post its official statement on its website, and has made no mention of the cuts on social media.

Palestinian officials came out in full force against the decision, which comes amid a steadily worsening relationship with the PA, which nosedived in December, following Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Since the decision, Palestinian leaders have suspended contacts with the administration, and have repeatedly accused the US of being an unfair arbiter of the peace process — despite Trump’s long held position that he can implement the “ultimate peace plan” in the region.

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, released a statement following Friday’s decision, calling the move “cheap blackmail” and “coercion,” saying that “the Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated,” and “the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale.”

She went on to say “there is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation,” adding that the US administration is “colluding with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources.”

Husam Zomlot, the head of the PLO General Delegation to the US, also condemned the move, saying that the current Trump administration is “dismantling decades of US vision and engagement in Palestine.”

“After Jerusalem and UNRWA, this is another confirmation of abandoning the two state solution and fully embracing Netanyahu’s anti peace agenda,” Zomlot said, referring to decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its January aid cuts to UNRWA, leaving the humanitarian organization responsible for Palestinian refugees in dire straits.

Friday’s decision comes amidst an already worsening crisis in the occupied territory, particular in Gaza, where some 170 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured since Great March of Return protests began five months ago.

Last month, chaos erupted in Gaza after UNRWA announced that it would be laying off hundreds of its employees as a direct result of not being able to recover from the massive US budget cuts this year.

Meanwhile, the UN reported last week that aid funding for the occupied Palestinian territory was at an “all-time low.”

So far, only a quarter of the nearly $540 million needed in funding this year has been received, according to the report, which said that the crisis is largely due to US funding cuts.

Friday’s cuts come only a few days after Trump said that there would be something “very good” coming for the Palestinians during a rally in West Virginia.

“We took it off the table. In past negotiations, they never got past Jerusalem. Now Israel will have to pay a higher price, because it’s off the table. The Palestinians will get something very good, because it’s their turn next,” Trump said.

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About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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18 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    August 25, 2018, 1:36 pm

    More Zionist nihilism. Won’t solve anything

  2. annie
    annie
    August 25, 2018, 1:44 pm

    a sadist’s solution.

  3. Marnie
    Marnie
    August 25, 2018, 2:05 pm

    He always looks happiest when he is willfully harming others.

  4. mondonut
    mondonut
    August 25, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Not giving your money to us = blackmail.
    Not giving your money to us = coercion.
    Not giving your money to us = abandoning the two state solution.
    Not giving your money to us = bullying and punishing.
    Not giving your money to us = Zionist nihilism.
    Not giving your money to us = willfully harming.

    Only in the bizarro world of Palestinian entitlement would any of the above be true. How is that PLO disengagement with the U.S. working out?

    • annie
      annie
      August 25, 2018, 5:19 pm

      entitlement? israel’s occupation prevents palestinians from engaging in free trade. they are forced to purchase israel’s leftovers. their farmland is stolen and the dregs sold back to them at high prices. their water is stolen and they are forced to pay for it if they want any. the list goes on and on. spare us your utter bs.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        August 25, 2018, 5:24 pm

        And IF any of what you claim is correct, how does that entitle the Palestinians to 200 million US dollars?

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        August 26, 2018, 6:57 am

        Mondonut

        The money keeps Palestinians quiet. It also keeps Jews safe.
        Never destroy anything without understanding why it was built.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        August 26, 2018, 11:43 am

        The political economy of Israel’s occupation by Shir Hever explains how the sick system works. It may be a blueprint for future management of Sabras. Power is strange.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 25, 2018, 5:25 pm

      “Mondonut” that is a great list, if applied to Israel.

    • bcg
      bcg
      August 25, 2018, 8:49 pm

      @Mondonut: If Israel would allow Palestinians to build factories and businesses with international investment money it wouldn’t need “entitlements”, but no sane capitalist is going to invest in a place where the IDF demolishes buildings just because.

      https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=780276

      “Israeli forces demolished Palestinian agricultural and commercial buildings in the Hizma neighborhood in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Monday morning…”

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      August 27, 2018, 10:53 am

      @mondonut

      It’s interesting how you and your ilk ignore a huge “elephant in the room” (among many others), i.e., it’s now over 70 years and the entity known as “Israel” is still utterly dependent on the U.S. A very unhealthy situation indeed, and as similar relationships throughout history attest, “Israel” will inevitably be set adrift by the U.S.

      Here’s just one example:

      https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf
      “Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”

      “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.”

  5. zaid
    zaid
    August 25, 2018, 5:37 pm

    The less money we take form the US the better.
    No cards left in the US hands against us.

  6. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    August 25, 2018, 6:02 pm

    RE: “Trump administration cuts over $200 million in aid to Palestinians”

    MY COMMENT: Donald Trump’s worth is less than zero.
    Excrement has more value!

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 26, 2018, 5:18 am

    Nothing like kicking a man when he is down.

  8. Kay24
    Kay24
    August 26, 2018, 6:45 am

    So, Crooked Bibi is once again trying to divide and interfere, in other nations. Will he get a standing ovation somewhere?

    “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told reporters accompanying him on his visit to Lithuania that he is seeking to divide the European Union and trying to prevent a consensus over Europe’s position on issues related to the Palestinians and Iran.”

    https://www.juancole.com/2018/08/netanyahu-courting-palestinian.html

  9. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    August 26, 2018, 7:59 am

    This is textbook Trump. Lobby driven. Paid by plutocrats. Destructive. Incoherent. Against traditional policy. Loaded with unforeseen consequences.

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