PRESIDENT Donald Trump has cancelled $25 million of aid for Palestinian cancer patients.
The oncology units were among six hospitals in east Jerusalem for which he has frozen funding as part of a punitive campaign against the Palestinian Authority for refusing to participate in peace talks.
Instead the money will go towards “high-priority projects elsewhere”.
In a New Year phone conversation with American rabbis, Trump said that he was using such financial assistance as leverage to return the Palestinians to the negotiating table.
“I stopped massive amounts of money that we were paying to the Palestinians and the Palestinian leaders,” he added. “We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And I’d say, ‘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 you’.”
Palestinian officials shut down communications with the White House in the wake of Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A PA official said that as a recent of the hospital funding cuts, Ramallah would double down on its boycott of the administration and its pending peace plan.
“The new American policy aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause under false pretexts through the so-called ‘deal of the century’,” said the Palestinian foreign ministry.
“This dangerous and unjustified American escalation has crossed all red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people.
“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.”
Former USAID assistant administrator David Harden, who worked in the West Bank and Gaza, said that among the institutions due to lose funds are Augusta Victoria Hospital and St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital.
“This decision could cause the collapse of these two respected hospitals serving the Palestinian community,” he said.