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Trump cuts $200m in aid to Gaza, West Bank

In this Thursday, May 31, 2018 photo, Walid al-Hattab, right, distributes free porridge during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Gaza City.
AP Photo/Adel Hana
Palestinians slam move as 'bullying'

The United States will slash over $200 million in economic aid to the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, the State Department said Friday.

Aid to the Palestinian territories was frozen early this year pending a review into US government assistance, i24NEWS revealed in May.

The move came after Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which aimed to force the PA to terminate its “pay-for-slay” policies of paying stipends to convicted terrorists in Israeli jails and to the families of dead terrorists.

A senior State Department official said the decision, made "at the direction of the president," was the result of a review into aid programs to the Palestinian territories.

The move "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 official said.

The official said the money would be put into "high-priority projects elsewhere."

"The US administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool," PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said in response. "The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion. The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale."

"There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation. The US administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation."

Soon after coming to office last year, President Donald Trump tapped son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and attorney Jason Greenblatt to find a way to entice Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

The effort is thought to have stalled after Trump overturned decades-long policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, prompting the Palestinian leadership to sever ties with Kushner and Greenblatt's team.

Earlier on Friday the White House denied to i24NEWS an Israeli newspaper report that President Donald Trump would unveil the first phase of his administration's plan to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Israel’s parliament also passed a law in July that will slash tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless welfare payments to convicted terrorists and their families are stopped.

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