By Abdel-Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – Palestinian hospital officials on Monday decried a U.S. decision to cut funding for hospitals in the occupied East Jerusalem, warning the move will have “catastrophic” consequences on the health sector.
The decision will have “a major negative impact on the clash flows to these hospitals and will lead to delays in the provision of vital medical services,” Basem Abu-Lebda, head of Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, told a press conference held at Augusta Victoria hospital in the city.
“In a nutshell, this decision will negatively impact the lives of five million Palestinians,” he said.
The U.S. administration has decided to cut nearly $25 million in aid to hospitals in Israel-occupied city that mainly serve Palestinian patients.
The cut could cause harm to at least five hospitals in East Jerusalem, including Augusta Victoria hospital and the St. John Eye Hospital, which is the main provider of eye treatments for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Abu-Lebda appealed to the Palestinian Authority, the U.S. Congress and the international community to take responsibility and spare no efforts to deal with the consequences caused by the U.S. aid cut.
Notably East Jerusalem hospitals provide medical services to Palestinians not only in East Jerusalem but also those in the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Last week, Washington ended all of its funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.
The U.S. was — by far — UNRWA's largest contributor, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly one quarter of the agency's overall budget.
Palestinians have rejected any U.S. mediation since U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — now occupied by Israel — might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.