US to cut more than $200M in Palestinian aid

US to cut more than $200M in Palestinian aid
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The U.S. will cut more than $200 million in economic aid for Palestinians and direct the money toward other projects, the State Department announced on Friday.

In a statement, a senior State Department official said the administration is redirecting funds "originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza" toward "high-priority projects elsewhere."

The official said the decision was made "at the direction of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE" to ensure aid money is spent "in accordance with U.S. national interests and [will] provide value to the U.S. taxpayer."

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The move comes as Trump and his team, including senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Manafort’s plea deal — the clear winners and losers MORE, are working toward releasing their long-awaited plan for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. 

Cutting aid could inflame tensions with the Palestinians, who have accused the Trump administration of giving more favorable treatment to the Israelis in their engagement in the region. 

The State Department said the funding 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 U.S. had previously frozen aid payments to the Palestinians for humanitarian programs in part due to concerns about terrorist activity.