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Jerusalem hospital calls US aid cut 'unjusitifed'

Sept. 9, 2018 12:35 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 12, 2018 10:37 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Makassed Hospital, the largest in the central West Bank city of Jerusalem, stated on Saturday that the United States administration’s decision to cancel $20 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem, "harms the hospitals, mixes political issues with medical and humanitarian ones and is totally unjustified."

Makassed Hospital director, Bassam Abu Libdeh, responded in a statement to the US decision "This decision comes at a time when the hospital is facing a severe financial crisis due to the large cash flow deficit and the outstanding debts and entitlements of the Palestinian government."

He urged all concerned Palestinian and international parties to immediately intervene "to help it deal with its outstanding debt for banks, suppliers, cleaning companies, the electricity company and the pension fund and which has reached $25 million and threaten the continuity of its operations and thus the lives of its patients."

Abu Libdeh continued "The hospital's share of the total US grant is 45 million shekels ($12.5 million), which helps a great deal to its various departments and the provision of services for its patients who come from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and occupied Jerusalem."

He stressed that depriving the hospital of such aid demands "an immediate financial intervention" from the Palestinian government to help the hospital pay the income tax, property tax, and the pension fund imposed by Israel.

Abu Libdeh also questioned why the United States Trump administration would mix political matters with medical and humanitarian issues, which to him is odd and totally "unjustified."

On Saturday a US State Department official said that the US decision against the hospitals in East Jerusalem is part of the administration's broader approach of cutting Palestinian aid and investing it in other priorities.

Trump confirmed in a recent statement that the US decision to cancel aid was in a bid to pressure Palestinians to return to UN-led negotiations with Israel, noting "I told them, we're not paying you until we make a deal. If we don't make a deal, we're not paying."

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