Palestinian National Council Slams U.S. Latest $200 Million Aid Cut

Published August 26th, 2018 - 07:04 GMT
Salim Zanoun, the head the PLO's Central Council. (social media)
Salim Zanoun, the head the PLO's Central Council. (social media)

The Palestinian National Council on Saturday condemned a decision by the U.S. administration to cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians.

Council speaker Salim Zanoun said the U.S. decision was part of “the policy of blackmail and pressure” being practiced on the Palestinian people to accept the so-called “deal of the century” – a backchannel plan to reach peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians.

“The U.S. administration proves every day that it is an accomplice in all policies and crimes committed by the Israeli occupation,” he said in a statement issued in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The National Council is the legislative organ of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

A senior State Department official said Friday that the U.S. cut more than $200 million in aid to Palestine following a review initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a statement, the official said the funds originally intended for the West Bank and Gaza Strip will instead be used for "high-priority projects elsewhere."

"At the direction of President Trump, 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," he said.

"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 added, referring to the 2017 fiscal year.

In January, the Trump administration had made drastic cuts to its contribution to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

Trump has sparked a global anger over his decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital last December. The move undercut long-standing underpinnings of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks where the city's status was to be determined as a final-status issue.

The Palestinians have snubbed calls from the Trump administration to return to the negotiating table, arguing Washington gave up its status as a neutral mediator by making the declaration.

Trump and his team are preparing a rollout of their long-mulled peace plan to end the decades-long conflict.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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