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US To Cut $25 Million Aid To Hospitals Serving Palestinians, After Slashing $200 Million Aid To Gaza

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| September 9 , 2018 , 12:41 IST

A fortnight after the US announced that it had cancelled more than $200 million in aid for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the US is planning to cut $25 million in aid to 6 hospitals primarily serving Palestinians in Jerusalem, a US State Department official said on Saturday.

According to the official, the decision came after a US President Donald Trump-directed review of assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza "to ensure these funds were being spent in accordance with US national interests and were providing value to the US taxpayer."

The official added, "As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere."

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The US funds to the hospitals had made it possible for many Palestinians to undertake specialised treatment such as such as cardiac surgery, neonatal intensive care or children's dialysis which were unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinians slammed the recent slashing of funds.

"This is not a formula of peacebuilding, this is a complete inhuman and immoral action that adopts the Israeli right-wing narrative to target and punish Palestinian citizens to compromise their rights to independence," said Ahmad Shami, a spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

"Such an act of political blackmail goes against the norms of human decency and morality," added Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee.

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On August 24, a senior US State Department official said that the US, "at the direction of the president," after reviewing aid programs to the Palestinian territories, had cancelled more than $200 million in aid for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The redirection of US funds away from Palestine comes at a time that Gaza is facing a humanitarian crisis since a surge of violence in March.

“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 official said in a statement.

“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.”