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 TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview 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 KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry 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.