The US government has decided to cut its aid package to the Palestinians by $200 million, a US State Department official announced at the weekend.
The decision came following a review of US aid to the Palestinian Authority, to the West Bank and to the Gaza Strip, carried out at the direction of President Donald Trump, the official stated. He said the review was intended to examine whether the expenditure served the US national interest and gave the US taxpayer a return for his money.
Following the review, President Trump directed that more than $200 million should be channeled to high-priority projects elsewhere. The amount cut was approved in the 2017 fiscal year for "programs on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip."
The State Department official said that the decision took into account the challenges with which the international community was contending in its efforts to provide aid in the Gaza Strip. He said that the Hamas regime endangered the lives of the citizens there and worsened a humanitarian and economic situation which was difficult in any case.
In response, PLO executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashwari said in a statement: "The US administration is demonstrating 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. 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."
In January this year, the Trump administration suspended until further notice $65 million of the budget of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). At this stage, the US will transfer $60 million to the agency, but will suspend, pending further review, the frozen amount. The US is the largest contributor to UNRWA.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 26, 2018
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