Trump cuts more than $200m in US aid to Palestinians

The United States is cutting more than $200m in aid to the Palestinians,  amid a deteriorating relationship with the Palestinian leadership, news wires reported. A senior State Department official said on Friday that the funds, originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza, would address “high-priority projects elsewhere.”

“We have undertaken a review of US assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the US taxpayer,” the official said in a statement.

The announcement came at a time when the Palestinian leadership has angered the White House by boycotting its peace efforts since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the embassy there. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is leading an effort to craft a peace plan meant to launch negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to end a decades-long conflict. A decision on when the initiative would be rolled out has not yet been made.

The State Department cited the Islamist militant group Hamas’ control of Gaza as part of its justification for reallocating the funds. The United States and Israel designate Hamas as a terrorist group.

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