US Cuts More Than $200 Million In Aid To Palestinians Citing Hamas’ Control Of Funds

The Trump administration has reportedly cut more than $200 million in aid which was originally slated to help Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

After a review of how the money was being spent, the State Department made the decision to cut the funds because the funds were going to regional terror group Hamas.

In a statement, the State Department said the funds would now be going to “high priority projects elsewhere.”

“At the direction of President Trump, we have 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 interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer,” the department said, per Stars and Stripes. “As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million … originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.”

And, “This decision 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.”

The reallocation of the funds come amid Trump advisors Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt reportedly gearing up to unveil a peace plan between Israel and Palestinians.

The relationship between Palestinian officials and the Trump administration is shaky at best and non-existent at worse after President Trump announced the United States would be moving their embassy into Jerusalem – a city which legally belonged to both Israelis and Palestinians. The move officially recognized the city as the capital of Israel and declared their ownership.

Here’s more, from Stars and Stripes:

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The notice did not give an exact amount of the funds to be cut, but said they had been approved in 2017.

The U.S. had planned to give the Palestinians $251 million for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the current 2018 budget year that ends on Sept.30. But with just over a month to go before that money must be used, reprogrammed to other areas or returned to Treasury, less than half has actually been spent. Earlier this month, the department had released about $60 million of the 2018 money for security projects that encourage cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Israel and Jordan, in particular, had lobbied for the security assistance to be continued.

The loss of the assistance is almost certain to further provoke the Palestinians against the Trump peace plan. The Palestinian leadership has been openly hostile to any proposal from the administration, citing what it says is a pro-Israel bias, notably after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv in May. The Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas broke off contact with the U.S. after the Jerusalem announcement.

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