Palestinians denounce US aid cuts as ‘blackmail’

World Today

Palestinian leaders are outraged by further U.S. aid cuts – and say the move shows America and Israel are not serious about peace.

CGTN’s Josh Cartwright reports.

Palestinians are crying foul after the U.S. announced it’s cutting $200 million of aid to Gaza and the West Bank.

“The United States of America and President Trump’s administration is blackmailing and putting pressure on the Palestinian people,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee. “We were completely expecting it under the policy of blackmail and threats that the United States of America practices.”

The move comes several months after the U.S. slashed more than half of its funding to a U.N. organization that aids Palestinians, known as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA.

That – on top of Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its opening of an embassy there in May – has escalated tensions between the U.S. and Palestinians.

According to a senior U.S. State Department official, this latest funding decision was made at the direction of President Donald Trump, and “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.”

But Palestinian leaders claim the measures are weaponizing humanitarian aid to force them back to the negotiating table with Israel – as the U.S. tries to put together a peace proposal, one they fear will favor Israel.

On the ground, the funding cuts are already having an effect, especially on NGOs in the region.

Several are either reducing their operations or closing down entirely. That means not only less aid for the needy, but also no work or income for their Palestinian employees.

Washington said the aid money would be re-directed to what it called “high-priority projects elsewhere.” Those projects were not identified.