US cuts aid to Palestinians by more than $200 million

The US had planned to give the Palestinians $251 million for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the current 2018 budget year that ends on Sept.30 (AP)
Updated 25 August 2018
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US cuts aid to Palestinians by more than $200 million

  • US State Department: We will redirect more than $200 million ... originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza
  • Israel and Jordan, in particular, had lobbied for the security assistance to be continued

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has decided to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza, the State Department said Friday.
The department notified Congress of the decision in a brief, three-paragraph notice sent first to lawmakers and then to reporters. It said the administration will redirect the money to “high priority projects elsewhere.”
The move comes as President Donald Trump and his Middle East pointmen, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, staff up their office to prepare for the rollout of a much-vaunted but as yet unclear peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.
“At the direction of President Trump, 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 department said. “As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million ... originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.”
“This decision 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,” the notice said, without providing additional details.
The notice did not give an exact amount of the funds to be cut, but said they had been approved in 2017.
The US had planned to give the Palestinians $251 million for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the current 2018 budget year that ends on Sept.30. But with just over a month to go before that money must be used, reprogrammed to other areas or returned to Treasury, less than half has actually been spent. Earlier this month, the department had released about $60 million of the 2018 money for security projects that encourage cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Israel and Jordan, in particular, had lobbied for the security assistance to be continued.


Tripoli neighborhoods ‘turning into battlefields’: Red Cross

Updated 25 April 2019
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Tripoli neighborhoods ‘turning into battlefields’: Red Cross

  • Hospitals are struggling from chronic shortages of medical supplies
  • There have also been power outages and weakened water pumping stations

GENEVA/TRIPOLI: The humanitarian situation has greatly deteriorated around the Libyan capital Tripoli, where “densely populated residential areas are gradually turning into battlefields,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.
Hospitals are struggling with chronic shortages of medical supplies amid power outages and weakened water pumping stations, the aid agency said in a statement after three weeks of clashes.
“It is crucial that hospitals, medical facilities, health staff and vehicles transporting the wounded are allowed to carry out their activities safely,” it said.
The World Health Organization said on Twitter that 278 people have been killed in the last three weeks, while 1,332 others have been wounded.
The Libyan National Army, which is allied to a rival government in eastern Libya, has mounted an offensive on Tripoli but has so far failed to breach the city’s southern defenses.
Southern suburbs and nearby villages have been heavily fought over and shelled, with territory regularly changing hands.