US to "redirect" aid to Palestinians by over 200 million USD

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/8/25 9:06:57

US State Department said here on Friday that President Donald Trump has ordered it to "redirect" economic aid to the Palestinians that are worthy of more than 200 million US dollars.

The State Department told reporters in a brief notice that at the direction of Trump, a review had been undertaken of "US assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the US taxpayer."

"As a result of that review, at the direction of the President, we will redirect more than $200 million in FY2017 Economic Support Funds originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza," the notice read.

"Those funds will now address high-priority projects elsewhere," it added, without giving further details like what these projects would be.

It also said that the decision has took into consideration "the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza"s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation."

The State Department has notified the Congress of the decision.

The Palestine Liberation Organization responded in a statement that the decision was "the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool. The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion."

"The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale," PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said. "There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation. The US administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation."

Earlier on Aug. 17, the State Department said that some 230 million US dollars targeted to support the stabilization initiative in Syria would be redirected after being reviewed. However, the fund could be offset by the approximately 300 million US dollars "in contributions and pledges from Coalition partners to support critical stabilization and early recovery initiatives in areas liberated from ISIS in northeast Syria."

The US aid cut also came after Washington threatened to reduce financial support to the Palestinians unless they agree to return to the negotiation table with Israel, which has been stalled for four years.

Palestinian officials have said that the US move comes in line with Trump's attempt to ignore the final issues of the Palestinian-Israel peace process, remove the issues of Jerusalem and refugees "off the table."

The United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December last year, sparking global outcry.


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