By Rebecca Colnes
The Trump administration announced the cancellation of over $200 million in aid to Palestinians on Aug. 24. The U.S. considered cutting funds in order to relocate the money to “high priority projects elsewhere,” according to Fox News.
The administration did not support the Palestinian Authority’s handling of the money, which they used to pay stipends to families of Palestinians killed, injured or jailed as a result of attacks against Israelis, according to Fox News. Israel and the Trump administration believe this act encourages terrorism.
Cutting this aid means the U.S. will no longer provide any monetary aid to Palestinians.
Previously, the money went through non-government relief organizations and was allotted to construct infrastructure, assist in humanitarian causes, foster democracy and provide education, according to The Washington Post.
In 2016, the U.S. provided about $290 million to Palestinians, who occupy disputed territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and has donated a total of $5.2 billion since 1994.
Funds were also allocated to security assistance, public diplomacy and mine clearance operations, according to The New York Times.
Palestinian officials said the withdrawal will affect the programs overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development. This agency governs debt relief, economic growth, water and sanitation, education, health and governance in Palestinian regions, according to The New York Times.
Fox News reports that the loss of this financial assistance will provoke Palestinians, who might object to this potential peace agreement.
“The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion,” the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee stated in response to the withdrawal, according to The New York Times.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization also rebuked the decision, calling it “‘a cheap use of blackmail as a political tool,’” according to Fox News.
U.S. political leaders also had public responses to the decision.
“It is the Palestinian people, virtual prisoners in an increasingly volatile conflict, who will most directly suffer the consequences of this callous and ill-advised attempt to respond to Israel’s security concerns,” said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, according to NPR.