Millions of pounds-worth of aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been suspended indefinitely by the UK government over concerns that the funds were being diverted from charity work into the pockets of terrorists.
Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, instructed her department to freeze the payments, a third of the total the UK sends to the PA, pending an investigation.
The Sun reports the decision by the Department for International Development means that over £23 million ($29 million) in cash is being withheld in 2016 — a third of the total aid sent to the Palestinian Territories. The majority goes to charities in the region.
Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) welcomed the announcement.
In a statement, CFI parliamentary chairman Sir Eric Pickles and CFI honorary president Lord Polak said: “Today’s announcement is an important step towards peace and those who work for it on all sides. It sends a wake-up call to the Palestinian Authority.
“As the new Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, has acted quickly to challenge a long-standing abuse of well-intentioned international aid money.
“This announcement will benefit Palestinian residents as funding will be unambiguously focused on coexistence, economic development and peace.”
One unnamed government source told The Sun the suspension will be lifted when clarity returns to the donation process: “We are not stopping for the Palestinian Authority overall, just delaying it to a date when we know our money won’t be going to people who do nothing in return for it.”
This is no the first time the Palestinian Authority has been accused of colluding with terrorists and diverting funding from international charities.
Breitbart Jerusalem reported in August that Hamas was accused by the Shin Bet security service of illegally siphoning off tens of millions of dollars of aid money from the U.S. and Europe to build terror tunnels and fund weapons purchases.
An estimated 60 per cent of the U.S.-based Christian aid charity World Vision’s total budget was funneled over the course of years by a local Hamas operative posing as a charity worker for the NGO.
World Vision denied the allegations that cited Muhammad Halabi as one of the conspirators behind the scheme.
“Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true. We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence,” the charity said in a statement following the indictment.
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