The United States has cut additional aid to the Palestinians for programs supporting conflict resolution with Israelis, an official said on Sunday, adding to more than $500 million in other cuts.
The latest cuts come from $10 million in programs on reconciliation involving Palestinians as well as Jewish and Arab Israelis.
The portion of the money involving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip was being redirected to programs between Jewish and Arab Israelis, a U.S. embassy official said. It was not clear how much of the $10 million was being redirected.
U.S. officials also could not confirm whether the latest cut meant all non-security related aid to the Palestinians had now been eliminated. “As announced in August, the administration redirected more than $200 million that was originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza,” a U.S. embassy official said. “At the same time we redirected a portion of the $10 million which was planned for conflict management and mitigation.”
The official said the portion involving Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza would be used “to enhance” programs in Israel instead.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will withhold aid from the Palestinians to force them to negotiate as the White House prepares a plan for Middle East peace—what he has called the “ultimate deal.”
The Palestinian leadership cut off contact with the White House after Trump recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December. They accuse Trump of blatant bias in favor of Israel and say he is blackmailing them to force them to accept the White House’s terms.
Last week the U.S. State Department ordered the closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington and on Sunday the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said the staff had been given until Oct. 13 to finish moving out. “The employees were ordered to cease all operations, close down all bank accounts, and they were told that there would be no renewal of the lease. The staff was given until Oct. 13 to vacate the premises,” the PLO said in a statement.
It said the U.S. authorities had also revoked the visas of the wife of the Palestinian mission head and his two young children, aged five and seven. They had already left the United States last week, it said.
Mission head Husam Zomlot was recalled to Ramallah by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in May in protest at the U.S. embassy Jerusalem move.
Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in the statement that the decision to cancel the Zomlot family visa was an “inhumane escalation.”
“This vindictive action by the Trump administration is spiteful,” she wrote. “The U.S. has taken its attempts to pressure and blackmail the Palestinians to a new level.”
In recent weeks, the U.S. government has announced more than $500 million in cuts in Palestinian aid, including cancelling support for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. It has maintained security-related aid, having provided $61 million in assistance this year.