Hamas slams US aid cut to Palestinians as ‘political blackmail’
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Hamas slams US aid cut to Palestinians as ‘political blackmail’

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on Saturday that the decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump to stop aid to the Palestinians “is in line with the ‘deal of the century’ that is aimed to liquidate the Palestinian issue.” He was referring Washington’s yet-to-be unveiled proposal aimed at resolving the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians have already rejected Trump’s plan, which is said to be hugely biased towards the Israeli regime. The statement came days after the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said it would end all its projects in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip on January 31 following the US administration’s decision to cut funding to the Palestinians. “The Trump administration’s decision to cut humanitarian aid provided to the Palestinian people is political blackmail reflecting the US immoral demeanor towards the Palestinians and their just cause,” Barhoum said. He also urged international institutions to stand by the Palestinians and support them in the face of “the discriminatory behavior of the US administration that is biased” in favor of the Israeli occupation. “Hamas calls on all international, humanitarian, and legal organizations to condemn the US policies aimed at pressuring the Palestinian people to accept its schemes in the region. Such organizations should shoulder the responsibility of mobilizing support for and siding with the impoverished Palestinians,” he added. Last year, the Trump administration ended all funding for UNRWA, the United Nations agency that provides humanitarian aid to over 5 million Palestinian refugees. The controversial move came after President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian Authority (PA) would no longer recognize Washington as a mediator of Israeli-Palestinian talks amid anger over Trump’s decision in late 2017 to recognize occupied Jeusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” in defiance of international objections. Analysts said the aid cut is meant to eliminate the Palestinians’ demand for the right to return, warning that it would cause more hardship for those living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. On Thursday, Dave Harden, former USAID mission director and managing director of the Georgetown Strategy Group, said the US administration’s decision to cut aid to Palestinians “demonstrates again a lack of nuance, sophistication, and appreciation for the complexity of the situation.” USAID has been operating in the Palestinian territories since 1994, investing in infrastructure, medical services, and education.

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