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Palestinians blast 'blackmail' as USA cuts $200 million

Palestinians blast 'blackmail' as USA cuts $200 million”

For many NGO workers, the announcement on Friday that President Donald Trump had ordered the State Department to "redirect" the funding to unspecified "high-priority projects elsewhere", means no more work nor income.

"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".

The official said the decision also considered "the challenges the worldwide 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".

But on Friday, the State Department said money to be spent by the end of this fiscal year - which ends September 30 - will now be redirected to "high-priority projects elsewhere".

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi accused the Trump administration of using "cheap blackmail as a political tool".

"I think it is long overdue that we have taken steps to reduce funding", Bolton said, adding that "much of UNRWA's expenses really go to perpetuating the refugee status of the Palestinian people".

Erekat said the U.S. decision to cut aid "is a sign that [Washington] had abandoned its worldwide obligations" adding that "the Palestinian people reject any conditional aid". "There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing people under occupation".

"It is the Palestinian people, virtual prisoners in an increasingly volatile conflict, who will most directly suffer the consequences of this callous and ill-advised attempt to respond to Israel's security concerns", said Democratic Sen.

The decision comes three months after Trump administration officials including senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump celebrated the relocation of the us embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv-a move that provoked outrage among Palestinians as well as in the global community-while Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) shot and fired tear gas at protesters, killing more than 50 people including an eight-month-old baby.

The notice did not provide an exact amount of the funds to be cut.

The announcement follows the recent passage of the Taylor Force Act in Congress, a bill aimed at providing greater oversight over how US taxpayer dollars fund the Palestinians.

The contentious move led Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to formally declare that the Palestinians would no longer accept the U.S. as a mediator to resolve the conflict because Washington was "completely biased" towards Tel Aviv.

Separately on Friday, the UNRWA head suggested that the U.S. had slashed the agency's budget to punish the Palestinians for their criticism of Washington's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital".

The effort is thought to have stalled after Trump overturned decades-long policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, prompting the Palestinian leadership to sever ties with Kushner and Greenblatt's team.

The Trump administration will in coming days reject the United Nations definition of Palestinian refugees, effectively snubbing the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees to Israel, an Israeli TV report said Saturday.

Mr Trump's administration is understood to be preparing to outline a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. In that case, however, the department said the loss of USA funding would be more than offset by other nations, including Saudi Arabia, which announced a $150 million contribution for Syria stabilization just hours before the American announcement.



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