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US slammed as it cuts aid to Palestinian hospitals

Trump accused of political blackmail after he redirects almost £20m of desperately needed funds

DONALD TRUMP was accused of “political blackmail” after cutting money for Palestinian hospitals on Saturday.

The US State Department announced that $25 million (£19.4m) of aid ring-fenced for medical support for Palestinians would be redirected elsewhere as part of a wider review of support for the region.

Palestine’s Foreign Ministry said it was part of a US attempt to “liquidate the Palestinian cause,” threatening the lives of thousands of Palestinians.

"This dangerous and unjustified American escalation has crossed all red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people,” it said in a statement.

US President Mr Trump ordered the latest cut to redirect funding to other “high-priority projects” that would best serve their national interest and give value for money to the taxpayer.

But critics warn that the review and cutting of aid is the latest in Mr Trump’s bid to force the Palestinians into agreeing a peace deal with Israel.

In a message to Palestinians on Thursday, he said: “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.”

Mr Trump provoked an angry backlash earlier this year when he ended decades of Washington policy by relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested capital of Jerusalem.

And as part of the review of US aid he cut $200m (£155m) in aid for the UN refugee agency to help support programmes for millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) spokeswoman Dr Hanan Ashrawi warned: “Such an act of political blackmail goes against the norms of human decency and morality.”

The Al Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital, which treats patients from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, explained that the “hospital is going through a suffocating crisis as a result of the lack of flow of financial aid and the piling up of debts and funds held back by the Palestinian government.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Ahmad Shami blasted the funding cut, saying: “This is not a formula of peace-building.

“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.”

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