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US cuts over $200 million in assistance to the Palestinians

The funds will be directed toward “high-priority projects elsewhere,” according to a three-paragraph notice sent to lawmakers from the department, as obtained by the Associated Press.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2017. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2017. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

The Trump administration has cut more than $200 million to the Palestinian Authority, succeeding a review of projects in Gaza and the West Bank, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides.

Congress was notified by the State Department on Friday, according to the officials and aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss the move publicly ahead of the formal announcement.

The funds will be directed toward “high-priority projects elsewhere,” according to a three-paragraph notice sent to lawmakers from the department, as obtained by the Associated Press.

“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,” the department said. “As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million … originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Earlier this year, the Trump administration withheld $65 million in assistance to UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which handles Palestinian refugees.

However, earlier this month, the department had released approximately $61 million of the 2018 money for security projects that encourage cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

The move comes as the Trump administration prepares to roll out a peace proposal for the Israelis and Palestinians.

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