US cuts $200mn in aid to Palestinians, sparking criticisms
The United States has canceled over $200 million in funds for the Palestinian Authority, leading Palestinian officials to denounce the move as “blackmail.”
According to Press TV, in a statement released on Friday, a senior US State Department official said that the decision came following a review of US assistance to the Palestinian Authority ordered by US President Donald Trump.
"We have undertaken a review 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," said the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity.
"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, " he added, noting that the funds would "now address high-priority projects elsewhere."
Another unnamed State Department official also stressed that the US administration would "work with Congress to redirect these funds to other policy priorities.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), condemned the fresh US aid cut, accusing Washington of using "cheap blackmail as a political tool."
"The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion," she said. “There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing people under occupation.”
Additionally, Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO General Delegation, censured the US aid cut, warning, "Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work."