Palestinians blast Trump’s aid cut as political blackmail

Aid being given out at a United Nations food distribution center in a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip this month. (photo: Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)
This is the second cut in humanitarian aid this year, now totalling almost $300 million for food, medicine, and schools.

By Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Aug 25, 2018

“This administration is dismantling decades of US vision and engagement in Palestine. This is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing Netanyahu’s anti-peace agenda. Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.”
— Husam Zomlot, the head of the PLO’s general delegation to the United States

“This decision represents a terrible decision by Trump’s team, which seems to think it will put pressure on the Palestinians to come to the table (it won’t).”
— Daniel Shapiro, former US ambassador to Israel

Palestinian officials denounced the Trump administration’s cancellation of more than $200 million in aid, accusing Washington of “weaponizing” humanitarian assistance by using it as a tool to coerce political concessions.

The aid cut, announced Friday, was the latest in a series of measures apparently aimed at forcing the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table with Israel while American officials work on a long-awaited peace proposal, the details of which remain opaque.

An earlier freeze by Washington of tens of millions of dollars of funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees, and the move in May of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem, had already infuriated the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state, expressed defiance this weekend, accusing the Trump administration of forsaking the role its predecessors had long sought as an honest broker in the dispute with Israel.

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