Last week the Trump Administration announced its decision to cut off funding for East Jerusalem church-run hospitals, as part of its overall decision to cut off funding for the Palestinians. The funding for Jerusalem hospitals, amounting to around $25 million, had initially been left in limbo, with some hope that it might be exempted from the overall cut. The decision to cut off the funding directly threatens these hospitals’ ability to continue providing critical medical care for Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The decision will affect six hospitals, including Augusta Victoria Hospital and St. John’s Eye hospital, which are the only medical facilities providing high quality oncology treatment to Palestinian patients.
This decision, made directly by the President, comes in spite of the congressional exemption exempting these medical facilities from the funding cut resulting from the Taylor Force Act Notably, the Trump Administration has opted to cut off all aid for the Palestinians as a matter of policy completed unrelated to the requirements of the Taylor Force Act. The cut to the hospitals comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s announcement that re-program for other uses around $200 million in funding pending for the Palestinians, as well as its announcement that it would cease all US funding to UNRWA. All of this appears to be realization of the threat, made explicitly by President Trump at the beginning of the year, that all funding for the Palestinians would be cut if the Palestinians didn’t cooperate with the so-called American peace efforts.
It is worth noting that the hospitals affected by the US decision are located within Jerusalem’s municipal borders, not within territories under the authority of the Palestinian Authority, and are licensed by Israeli authorities. Under the terms of that license, these hospitals are entitled to provide many of their life-saving procedures exclusively to West Bank residents. There is therefore no basis for the claim, made by some in social media, that the PA should (or even could) take responsibility and financially support these facilities.
For those inclined to attribute some kind of sinister activity to these hospitals, we refer to Trump’s Peace Envoy’s tweet posted on March 28 of this year, less than six months ago:
St. Joseph’s Hospital is one of those being de-funded. Apparently no amount of good works will spare them from the visceral, ideological hostility currently being displayed towards anything Palestinian.