Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem opens. AP reporter Aron Heller explains. (May 14)
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration will revoke more than $200 million in economic aid for the West Bank and Gaza, the State Department announced Friday.
The move came after a State Department review examining whether the funding was in “U.S. national interests” and of value to American taxpayers. In a terse announcement, the State Department said it would redirect the $200 million to “high-priority projects elsewhere.”
“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 State Department notice said.
The move drew immediate fire from Democrats in Congress, who said it would roil an already volatile part of the world and undermine U.S. efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“After a year and eight months in office, President Trump has yet to announce anything remotely resembling a coherent policy to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Sen Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“Inhabitants of Gaza are already suffering severe hardships under the tyranny of Hamas and border restrictions imposed by Israel,” Leahy said. “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.”
Most U.S. aid to the Palestinians goes toward health care, education, economic development, and infrastructure improvements
The withdrawal of economic aid to the Palestinians comes as the Trump administration is preparing to unveil a highly anticipated Middle East peace plan – an effort that appears to be faltering even before it gets off the ground.
One contentious element of that plan would reportedly tie economic development for Gaza and the West Bank to significant concessions from the Palestinians, including giving permanent control of Jerusalem to the Israelis.
The Trump administration already has frosty a relationship with Palestinian leaders, who see the president as biased towards Israel. The rapport deteriorated significantly 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.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2o9l4Xy