President Donald Trump has ordered a $25 million aid money for Palestinian care in East Jerusalem hospitals to be directed elsewhere as part of a review of US aid, a US State Department official said on Saturday.
Trump called for a review of US assistance to the Palestinians earlier this year to ensure that the funds are spent in line with US national interests and are providing value to taxpayers.
“As a result of this analysis under the president’s direction, we will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem hospital network,” the State Department official said. “These funds will go to high priority projects elsewhere.”
The aid cut is the latest in a series of Trump government actions that alienated the Palestinians, including the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
This movement was a reversal of America’s long-standing policy and led the Palestinian leadership to boycott Washington’s peace efforts led by Jared Kushner, senior counselor and Trump’s son-in-law.
Last month, the Trump administration said it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza amid a deteriorating relationship with the Palestinian leadership.
And at the end of August, the Trump government suspended all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a decision that further increased tensions with the Palestinian leadership.
Palestinian refugees reacted with consternation to funding, warning that this would lead to more poverty, anger and instability in the Middle East.
A statement from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the latest aid cut was part of a US attempt to “liquidate the Palestinian cause” and said it would threaten the lives of thousands of Palestinians and the livelihoods of thousands of hospital staff.
“This dangerous and unjustified American escalation crossed all the red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people,” he said.
Washington said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms and called on the Palestinians to renew peace talks with Israel.
The last round of US-sponsored Palestinian-Israeli peace talks collapsed in 2014 and an attempt by the Trump government to restart them showed few signs of progress.