US Halts $125 Million in Funding for Palestinian Refugees

The Palestinian Authority suspended contacts with the Trump administration last month after the president announced that the USA would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The new legislation is also likely to heighten even further the tensions sparked by Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6. The Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza in 2007 after driving out forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"I would say that Palestinian rights are not for sale, and we will not succumb to blackmail", said PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.

Palestinians reacted angrily when President Trump threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, and the face off between the Palestinians and Trump puts any future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in doubt.

"It achieves the same goal", he said. Although a potential peace deal between Israel and Palestine is still open, Abbas said that the announcement by the United States leader was declaring their intentions to withdraw from their lead role in brokering a peace deal between the two nations.

The current crisis began last June after Ramallah said it would stop paying its share of Gaza's electricity bill, which amounted to about NIS 40 million a month.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel - might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

The residents of Gaza have been caught in the middle of a political rift between Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the rival Hamas leadership in Gaza. President trump self-declared ultimate deal between the Israelis and Palestinians was a wrench in his government's obligation to have the peace process restarted. The U.S. Congress is close to passing the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off Palestinian aid money unless the practice is stopped.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are expecting the response of Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements to the invitation of the Palestinian Central Council to take part in its upcoming convention next week.

  • Jon Douglas