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White House axes funding to programs bringing Israelis and Palestinians together

Jared Kushner, left, and Jason Greenblatt, right, listen as American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Palestine, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at United Nations headquarters.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

President Donald Trump's Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt confirmed late Friday that the United States will ax funding to co-existence programs between Israelis and Palestinians. 

In a tweet, Greenblatt confirmed a report in the New York Times that $10 million in aid planned to be dispensed for "people-to-people" exchanges will not be dispensed in the next fiscal year. 

According to the report, the funds supported “cross-border projects that bring together Israelis and Palestinians and activities that bring together Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians". 

Similar programs between Jewish and Arab Israelis will not see any reduction to their funding. 

The move is part of Washington's effort to punish the Palestinian leadership for cutting ties with the Trump administration following a decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

"I continue to believe in the importance of building relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly kids," Greenblatt wrote. 

Felipe Dana/AP

"But both Palestinian and Israeli kids will lose, and these programs will be meaningless, if the PA continues to condemn a plan they haven’t seen & refuses to engage on it."

Since coming to power in early 2017, Greenblatt and Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner have been devising a way to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. 

Leaks about its purported contents have deeply troubled Palestinians, who view the White House as sticking too closely to Israeli demands. 

Kushner and Greenblatt have given no hints about the plan's contents and reports of its imminent launch have been circulating for almost a year. 

In a barrage of bad news for the Palestinians, in recent weeks the US has announced a general $200 million aid cut, a complete end to its funding of the global Palestinian refugee agency and the withdrawal of $25 million from Jerusalem hospitals that provide specialist care to Palestinians. 

The moves also follow a review triggered by the Taylor Force Act, which stops US payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless they cease payments to families of terrorists convicted in Israeli courts.

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