A U.S. plan to withdraw $25 million in aid to hospitals in East Jerusalem was denounced Monday by the hospital network and the Palestinian authority.
The move is the latest in a series of cutbacks of over $200 million in aid to Palestinians. Last week, the State Department said it would end funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.
The reductions raise fears that programs serving millions of Palestinians could collapse, with resulting unrest.
“At the direction of the President, we will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network,” a State Department official said in a statement. “Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere.”
RELATED Australia cuts funding to Palestine, fearing support of terrorism
The six hospitals of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network said the cuts in aid “will create serious problems at the hospitals and will cause delays in lifesaving and other urgent treatments.”
It added the hospitals serve five million people in largely-Palestinian East Jerusalem.
The hospitals offer care that the Palestinian Health Ministry cannot — including cancer, cardiac and eye surgeries, as well as neonatal and dialysis care.
RELATED U.S. cuts funding to Palestinian refugee agency
Palestine Liberation Organization executive Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said the funding cut will cause “serious instability and grave harm to thousands of Palestinian patients and their families.
“Such an act of political blackmail goes against the norms of human decency and morality. Politics should not trump humanity or harm a vulnerable people in need of support and protection.”
The Palestinian leadership ended talks with the United States in November, and relations further deteriorated after President Donald Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in May.
RELATED Trump administration cuts $200M in aid to Palestinians
Trump’s action was regarded by some Palestinians a unilateral move that nullified the United States as neutral peace broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.