U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to cut aid to hospitals in West Bank and Gaza will threaten the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians, experts say.
In an official statement released Saturday, the U.S. State Department said that after reviewing a multi-million assistance program to the Palestinian Authority, it had decided the cause was neither aligned to U.S. national interest nor of value to the U.S. taxpayer.
“As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network; those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere,» said State Department.
The statement follows the state’s decision to cut US$200 million in bilateral aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees announced last month and comes just days before the Trump administration is expected to release its peace plan.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry denounced the latest cut, saying it was a direct attempt to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
“This dangerous and unjustified American escalation has crossed all red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people, including the humanitarian aspect, since it threatens the lives of thousands of Palestinian patients and their families, and could affect the future and livelihoods of thousands of employees of these hospitals,” the Foreign Ministry said.
East Jerusalem is already currently suffering a financial crisis, Makassed Hospital Director Bassam Abu Libdeh said.
“The hospital’s share of the total US grant is NIS 45 million ($12.5 million), which helps a great deal its various departments and the provision of services for its patients who come from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and occupied Jerusalem,” Abu Libdeh said.
Procedures such as cardiac surgery, neonatal intensive care, children dialysis are only a few specialized treatments made possible by the U.S. financial aid, the World Health Organization reports.
A spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmad Shami, said, “This is not a formula of peacebuilding, this is a complete inhuman and immoral action that adopts the Israeli right-wing narrative to target and punish Palestinian citizens to compromise their rights to independence.”
During a phone conversation Thursday, Trump reportedly said the financial cuts were a means to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table.
“You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying,» the U.S. president said.
Top Photo | Palestinians bring a wounded man to a hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)