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Trump to cut aid money for Palestinian cancer patients

State Department official claims US president is expected to cancel $25 million of aid funds intended for oncological treatments in six eastern Jerusalem hospitals, according to an NPR report; Trump says he is aware move will draw fire.

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US government is expected to make further cuts in aid to the Palestinians—this time in funds aiding oncological patients in eastern Jerusalem hospitals, according to a State Department official.

NPR reported on Saturday the funds, totalling $25 million, were intended to be transferred to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, run partly by local churches. He added that the money will be redirected to other aid programs the US runs in the Middle East, Africa and South and East Asia, aimed to fight mass weapons production.

Among the hospitals that will be affected are the famous Augusta Victoria Hospital, which belongs to the Lutheran church, and the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group. These hospitals, as well as others that will be hurt by the cuts, were all high priority aid targets for the US government.

The six hospitals have been excluded from receiving aid under the Taylor Force Act, which intends to halt economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until they cease paying stipends to terrorists and to the families of deceased terrorists.

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This week is the third in a row throughout which the US government announces cuts to different aid programs. Last week Trump canceled $300 million in aid money for UNRWA, and a week prior he canceled $200 million in humanitarian aid allocated for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Trump said recently that the cuts have been made in order to push the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

According to the World Health Organization, the US has been funding various medical procedures for Palestinians from both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including cardiac procedures, eye operations and ER treatments.

Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaleb al-Husayni said the decision to terminate the funding for oncological patients is not surprising, and that, “the US needs to know that all its recent moves will not make us budge from our stance. On the contrary, we will only entrench ourselves deeper in our positions—including our position regarding the future of Jerusalem.”

UNRWA school in Balata refugee camp, Nablus (Photo: AFP)
UNRWA school in Balata refugee camp, Nablus (Photo: AFP)

Last Thursday Trump spoke to leaders of the Jewish community and US Rabbis, and said that he plans to “stop the transferring of large funds to the Palestinians.” He blamed Palestinians for disrespecting the US in light of past huge aid funds they were given.

“I say this: you will get the money, but not before we sign a deal with Israel. No deal—no money,” said a transcript of a White House conversation.

Trump added that he is well aware that his move is going to draw fire. According to his statement, he had asked previous middle men who were working with the Palestinian Authority whether they had used financial sanctions before, and the answer was negative, as mediators saw financial sanctions as an unrespectable mean.

“I don’t think that sanctions are unrespectable. When you refuse to sit for negotiations—that isn’t respectable to me,” Trump concluded.

 

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