US cancels more than $200 million in Palestinian aid
The US is cancelling more than $200 million in aid to the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with the Palestinian ambassador to Washington accusing President Donald Trump of being "anti-peace".
The US State Department announced the cuts were "at the direction of the president", and the latest punitive actions against the Palestinian Authority by the hawkish Trump administration.
Washington said the decision comes after a review of aid programmes to the Palestinian territories with the funds allocated to Gaza and the West Bank now directed at "high-priority projects elsewhere", a US official told AFP.
"[It] 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," he said.
In January, the US made a number of drastic cuts in its aid contributions to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
This is in addition to strong political moves against the Palestinian Authority, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which sparked widespread unrest in the Palestinian territories.
The Palestinians retaliated by suspending contacts with the Trump administration. Ramallah officials have repeatedly stated it does not consider the US as a partner in the Middle East peace process after the embassy move.
On Friday, the PA's representative in the US hit back at the latest punitive actions by Trump's administration.
"This administration is dismantling decades of US vision and engagement in Palestine," Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian General Delegation to the US said in a statement.
"After Jerusalem and UNRWA, this is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu's anti-peace agenda."
The US decision to target Palestinians - as it kindles even warmer ties with Israel - has led to hundreds of deaths.
Palestinian protests began in March against the decision by Washington to move its embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem.
At least 171 Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli fire during demonstrations on the Gaza border.
Trump's administration is seen as an attempting to force a peace plan on the Palestinians that is believed to be vastly more favourable towards Israel.
Washington is also viewed as using aid money to pressure Palestinians to accept the peace plan, something Ramallah has so-far resisted.
"Weaponising humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work," Zomlot said.
"Only a recommitment from this administration to the long-held US policy of achieving peace through the two-state solution on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Palestine, and respecting international resolutions and law will provide a way forward."
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy backed the Palestinian complaints, saying Trump has issue a "series of provocative and harmful acts" instead of attempting to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump has tasked his son-in-law Jared Kushner and lawyer Jason Greenblatt to draft a peace plan between Palestine and Israel, insisting it would be "very good" for Palestinians, something viewed with scepticism in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Palestinians see the eastern part of Jerusalem as a future capital of a Palestinian state.
Agencies contributed to this article.