US Revokes $200 Million Of Economic Aid To Palestinians
The Trump administration has announced that nearly all the money the United States had planned to spend on aid projects in Palestine this year has been revoked. The State Department notified Congress of the decision on the more than $200 million in economic aid in a brief, three-paragraph notice. In the notice, the department said that the money would be redirected to “high-priority projects elsewhere.”
The aid money was frozen by the Trump administration earlier this year after relations between the two countries deteriorated. At the heart of the conflict was President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. Palestinian leaders criticized President Trump as biased towards Israel and broke off contact with the US.
The freezing of the aid caused chaos in some American-funded aid organizations. Some had to cancel important programs for the needy while others chose to lay off staff to cope with the lack of money. Most of the aid sent by the US to the Palestinians goes toward health care, education, economic development, and infrastructure improvements. The aid organizations have said that without the money, many of their programs for poor Palestinians will be cut.
Critics of the decision said that it harms needy Palestinians so the US can get its way with the leaders when negotiating a peace deal with Israel. They say the decision will undermine US efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont 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.”
The move by the State Department was sudden, but certainly not unexpected. The US has also withheld $300 million previously pledged to the United Nations’ agency that feeds and schools Palestinian refugees. Recently, the US revoked $230 million dollars in planned aid for programs in Syria.