PLO Leaders claim it’s “political blackmail”
The Trump administration will close the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in DC, leaving the Gazans “without a formal presence in the U.S. capital,” reports CBS News.
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The Trump administration has informed the Palestinian government that its primary office in Washington D.C. will be closed, deepening a rift with the Palestinians and drawing cries of a “dangerous escalation” from their leadership. The move, which U.S. officials were yet to confirm on Monday morning, comes after the White House said over the weekend that it was cutting $25 million in funding for health services in heavily-Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Senior Palestinian diplomat Dr. Saeb Erekat confirmed in a statement released Monday that the U.S. government had informed the Palestinian Authority that the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, effectively the Palestinian parliament, would be shuttered.
“We have been notified by a US official of their decision to close the Palestinian Mission to the US. This is yet another affirmation of the Trump Administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education,” Erekat said in the statement.
The $25 million that had been allocated to “East Jerusalem hospitals and putting the money toward “high-priority projects elsewhere,” said the Trump Administration Saturday.
Last month, the State Department cut some $200 million in aide also designated for Gaza after Trump ordered the department to conduct a review of the expenditure “to ensure the spending was aligned with U.S. national interests.”
The State Department said the review was intended to make sure the American aid was “being spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and were providing value to the U.S. taxpayer.” The administration “will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere,” the department added. It did not identify the projects.
PLO leaders claim the reallocation of US taxpayer funds amounts to “political blackmail.”
In response, Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi accused the administration of threatening to cause “serious instability and grave harm” to thousands of patients and their families across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of workers in the Palestinian health care sector.
“Such an act of political blackmail goes against the norms of human decency and morality,” Ashrawi said in a statement. “Politics should not trump humanity or harm a vulnerable people in need of support and protection.”
Last fall, the Trump administration threatened to shutter the office but didn’t follow through. Gazans blamed the Israeli lobby and the Netanyahu influence on the administration for Trump’s threat.DONATE
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