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US cuts more than $200 million in aid to Palestinians

Published on: 9:04 pm - Saturday | August 25, 2018

currentnews.com.bd

The United States said Friday that it had canceled more than $200 million in aid for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, leading their ambassador to accuse President Donald Trump’s administration of being “anti-peace.”

A senior State Department official said the decision, made “at the
direction of the president,” came after a review of aid programs to the
Palestinian territories.

The funding previously allocated for programs in the West Bank and Gaza
will “now address high-priority projects elsewhere,” said the official.

The move “takes into account 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,” he said.

In January, the United States had already made drastic cuts to its
contribution to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.

Relations between the US administration and the Palestinian Authority took
a nosedive after Trump announced the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital.

The Palestinians have suspended contacts with the administration and
consider that it can no longer play a mediation role in the Middle East peace
process.

“This administration is dismantling decades of US vision and engagement in
Palestine,” Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian General Delegation to the
United States said in a statement.

“After Jerusalem and UNRWA, this is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing (Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin)
Netanyahu’s anti-peace agenda.”

The decision to cut Palestinian funding comes amid a humanitarian crisis in
Gaza, which has seen a surge of violence since Palestinian protests began in
March.

At least 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during
demonstrations near the border with Israel.

The US administration is pressing on with work on a peace plan that has
been under discussion for months, leaving a vacuum in the Middle East in the meantime.

“Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work,” Zomlot said.

“Only a recommitment from this administration to the long-held US policy of
achieving peace through the two-state solution on the 1967 borders with East
Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Palestine, and respecting international resolutions and law will provide a way forward.”

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy accused the White House of engaging in a
“series of provocative and harmful acts” instead of coming up with a coherent
policy to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump has tasked his son-in-law Jared Kushner and lawyer Jason Greenblatt
to draft the peace proposals, saying earlier this week that there would be
something “very good” for the Palestinians.

The Palestinians see the eastern part of the disputed city as the capital
of their future state.

 

(AFP)

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