JERUSALEM: Palestinian hospitals in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem expressed regret Monday over a US cut of $25 million in funding but said they hoped to be rescued by the Palestinian Authority and foreign donors.
The US State Department said on Saturday it was “redirecting” the aid on the orders of President Donald Trump.
“Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere,” a State Department official said.
The money had been earmarked for the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, which groups six medical institutions in the mainly Palestinian part of the city.
“The East Jerusalem Hospitals Network deeply regret the decision by the US administration to cut the funding for the six east Jerusalem hospitals,” the group’s secretary, Walid Nammour, told a news conference.
In the past, the US funds made it possible for many Palestinians to get specialized treatment — such as cardiac surgery, neonatal intensive care or children’s dialysis — unavailable in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the World Health Organization.
A statement by the hospitals network called on “the Palestinian government, the US Congress and the international community” to help resolve the funding gap.
Nammour welcomed an announcement on Sunday by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority that it would make up the deficit.
“This is great news for us,” Nammour said. “We can continue to provide essential services that are not available in other hospitals in Gaza or the West Bank.”
But Sunday’s statement by PA health minister Jawad Awad gave no indication how it could pass funds to the hospitals network, given Israel’s blanket ban on PA activity anywhere in the city it claims as the capital of the Jewish state.
The cut is just one of Trump’s sanctions against the Palestinians, coming after his decision to cancel support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and pull the plug on more than $200 million in bilateral aid.
On Monday the State Department confirmed it was ordering the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the US capital, saying the Palestinians were not supporting peace talks with Israel.
Trump has been seeking to pressure the Palestinian leadership, which is boycotting the White House, to negotiate as his team pursues a plan for Middle East peace — what he calls the “ultimate deal.”
“You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal,” he said in Washington on Thursday. “If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.”