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 TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade 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 KushnerKim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail EXCLUSIVE: Career officials rebut claims of White House interference in security clearance process Meghan McCain calls Trump rally 'really dystopian' 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.