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US freezes aid funds to West Bank and Gaza

June 26, 2018 4:08 P.M. (Updated: July 3, 2018 3:49 P.M.)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United States has frozen aid funds to the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday morning, according to Israeli Walla news.

The Hebrew language news outlet reporter that the aid has been suspended under the “Taylor Force Law," which was passed in March of this year, and will prevent the Palestinian Authority from paying monthly stipends to families of killed, wounded and imprisoned Palestinians.

A Palestinian official confirmed the report, saying the Trump administration had told the PA in mid-January 2018 that it was reexamining its West Bank and Gaza aid budget.

The Israeli television also said that the move comes two months after the US Congress passed the Taylor Force Law, which aims to force the Palestinian Authority to stop its policy of paying the stipends of Palestinian prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed after or during attacks they carried out.

In the Palestinian society, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is responsible for providing financial assistance to families of those slain, injured, or imprisoned by Israeli forces.

Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that, in January the US President Trump said that the U.S. may withhold future aid payments to the agency over what he called the Palestinians' unwillingness to talk peace with Israel.

The U.S. pledged $370 million to the agency in 2016, a third of the agency's budget, according to UNRWA's website.

"The decision was made following a lengthy internal debate within the Trump administration. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley pushed for a complete freeze of funding to UNRWA, unless the Palestinians commit to U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other State Department officials warned that such a move would create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Jordan and the West Bank," Haaretz added.

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