The Trump administration has decided to cut $200 million in vital aid to Palestine, showing yet again its lack of concern for the residents of Gaza and the West Bank.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department officially announced the decision, saying it would redirect the funds to “high priority projects elsewhere," Arab News reported. The department explained that it aimed to ensure the money would be "spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer."
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has no qualms about its taxpayers bank-rolling the $38 billion in aid it plans to give to Israel over a 10 year period of time. In February, several prominent lawmakers even pushed to increase the amount, suggesting it wasn't enough.
Saying that the latest decision regarding Palestinian aid was made "at the direction of President Trump," the State Department said it would "redirect more than $200 million ... originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza."
Trump's funding cut comes after a series of decisions that have shown complete disregard for the future and hopes of Palestinians.
In December, the president officially announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the "eternal" capital of Israel, also revealing that his country would relocate its embassy to the historic city from Tel Aviv. Trump's plan was realized in May, when his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both whom serve as top advisers to the president, officially opened the new embassy in Jerusalem.
The opening led to large protests and staunch criticism of the U.S. At least 60 demonstrators were killed as the new diplomatic offices were minted to Israeli and U.S. fanfare.
In response, Palestinian leaders have boycotted so-called peace efforts by the White House. Trump has tasked his son-in-law Kushner, a Modern Orthodox Jew, with brokering peace in the Middle East. Thus far, the "peace process" put forward has appeared principally concerned with pleasing Israeli leaders.
In response to Trump's latest decision regarding aid, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi accused the Trump administration of using “cheap blackmail as a political tool.“
"The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion,” she said, Reuters reported.
Echoing Ashrawi's sentiments, Ambassador Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO General Delegation to the United States, said: “Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.”
Political opposition leaders in the U.S. government have also criticized Trump's decision.
“Inhabitants of Gaza are already suffering severe hardships under the tyranny of Hamas and border restrictions imposed by Israel," U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat.
"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," he said.