The U.S. Department of State announced this week that it will strip roughly $200 million in funding for programs benefiting Palestinians on the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.
A statement released Friday explains that the money will be diverted to “high priority projects elsewhere,” as reported by The Associated Press.
The decision came following an internal review that was commissioned by President Donald Trump and aimed at determining what the aid actually accomplished.
According to the State Department announcement, the agency has “undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interest and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer.”
After presenting its findings to Trump, the department wrote that “at the direction of the president, we will redirect the more than $200 million … originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Just over $230 million in Palestinian aid had been approved last year. The final amount to be cut as part of this development has not yet been determined, though, as officials decide whether to follow through — in part or in whole — with a commitment to send $25 million for a hospital that cares for Palestinians.
Trump officials have denounced the Palestinian Authority for actions including a payout it gives families when a relative is killed or otherwise incapacitated in a violent attack on Israel.
The statement broadly mentioned “challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza,” describing the region as controlled by Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist organization that “endangers the lives of Gaza’s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation.”
In response to the development, the Palestinian Liberation Organization described the U.S. position as “cheap blackmail” and vowed to remain defiant.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, said in a statement that there is “no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation.”
He went on to accuse America of demonstrating “meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources” and “exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation.”
Earlier this month, a White House National Security Council source pointed to an administration effort to reach a ceasefire in Gaza.
The representative said that the Trump administration “remains in close communication with Israel, Egypt, and the UN with respect to Gaza.”
As that statement indicated, the U.S. would prefer to reach its goal with the assistance of the Palestinian Authority but is prepared to press on without it.
U.S. officials think “it would be best if the PA reasserts control in Gaza so we can get on with making lives better,” the statement concluded.
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