Days of Palestine

Saturday, January 28

Palestine doctors say US aid cut endangers patients’ lives

Days of Palestine -

Palestinian doctors have condemned "inhumane" US plans to cut $25 million in aid to six hospitals in occupied holy city of Jerusalem.

The head of the Augusta Victoria Hospital told The New Arab's Arabic-language service on Sunday the move will endanger the lives of patients.

"The people most affected by this outrageous and inhumane decision will be the patients, in particular patients with cancer and kidney disease. It will cause significant harm to the services available for them," Walid Nammour said.

"It will also harm the treatment for the five million residents of the West Bank and Gaza who benefit from the services of hospitals in Jerusalem," he added.

The director of Jerusalem's Makassed Hospital said the aid cut was a bid to pressure Palestinians into accepting US dictates.

"The Trump administration is attempting to extort Palestinians politically," Bassam Abu Libdeh said.

"We reject this blackmail and stress that we will never abandon our national and political position in exchange for money."

Abu Libdeh added the aid cut will harm the hospital's operations as it is facing a financial crisis over a large cash flow deficit and outstanding debts. 

The US funds made it possible for many Palestinians to seek specialised treatment – such as cardiac surgery, neonatal intensive care or children's dialysis – unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.

Sunday's move follows the State Department's late August announcement the administration was slashing more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians following a review that President Donald Trump ordered to ensure the spending was aligned with US national interests.

Palestinian officials vociferously protested Trump's December 2017 decision to recognise the occupied city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

They accuse him of using aid as a coarse lever to force them back to peace talks with Israel.

Trump made it clear on Thursday he was working to get Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

"You'll get money, but we're not paying you until we make a deal," he said in Washington. "If we don't make a deal, we're not paying," Trump said.