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US cuts will have dire effect on health care: Palestinians

Trump admn cuts $25m Palestine aid for East Jerusalem hospitals

photo by AP photo

Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, seen in 2017, is one of the facilities expected to be affected by a cut in US aid to Palestinians.

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10th-Sep-2018       
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Reuters, Washington :
The Trump administration has announced further cuts in aid to the Palestinians - this time, cutting money to cover cancer treatments and other critical care for Palestinians at Jerusalem hospitals.
A State Department official told NPR the administration is pulling $25 million it had planned to give to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, a group of six hospitals, some church-run, providing care primarily to Palestinians.
In past years, U.S. funding covered medical costs for Palestinians to go to these hospitals for treatment unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza - from cardiac and eye surgeries to neonatal intensive care and children's dialysis, according to the World Health Organization.
President Trump said he's cut aid for the Palestinians to pressure them on a peace deal with Israel.
"This is not surprising at all. Let America know that all these acts will not change our position toward our cause one bit. On the contrary, it consolidates our positions toward every issue, including Jerusalem," said Adnan Husseini, Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs.
Dave Harden, a former senior U.S. official overseeing aid to the Palestinians under the Obama administration, called the funding cut "particularly vindictive." He warned it could "cause the collapse" of hospitals including Augusta Victoria Hospital, run by the Lutheran World Federation, and St. John Eye Hospital.
These East Jerusalem hospitals had recently been given preferential treatment by the U.S. - as one of the few projects the U.S. had exempted from the Taylor Force Act, a new law limiting aid to the Palestinians to protest Palestinian stipends to prisoners convicted of attacks in Israel.
This is the third Friday in a row that U.S. officials have unveiled Palestinian funding cuts.
Meanwhile, the director of an east Jerusalem hospital says a U.S. decision to cut funding to hospitals serving the Palestinians will have a "severe effect."
Bassem Abu Libdeh, of the Makassed hospital, said Sunday that the U.S. covers 40 percent of costs in six east Jerusalem hospitals that provide care for Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Trump administration announced the $25 million funding cut on Saturday, saying it would redirect the money toward "high-priority projects elsewhere."
The U.S. has also cut funding to UNWRA, which serves Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants across the region.
The moves have added to Palestinian mistrust of the U.S. as it prepares to unveil a peace plan.

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