Deputy Minister and Kulanu MK Michael Oren. Photo: The Israel Project.

The Trump administration’s decision to cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians has drawn praise from a top Israeli government official and criticism from a former U.S. ambassador to the Jewish state.

A senior U.S. State Department official said on Friday, without elaborating, that the funds — originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza — would address “high-priority projects elsewhere.”

“We have undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer,” the official said in a statement.

This latest development came amid the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing boycott of the Trump administration, which has been trying to revive the long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Responding on Twitter to the news of the aid cut, Michael Oren — a deputy minister in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Kulanu MK — said, “Each time they refused to negotiate in the past, the Palestinians were rewarded. So of course they refused to negotiate.  But now the US will punish them. Perhaps being punished by a $200 million reduction in aid will do what rewards didn’t — bring the Palestinians to the table.”

This line of thinking was echoed by Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks, who tweeted, “Something different other than ‘same old same old’ and rewarding bad behavior. If the status quo is unacceptable you can’t just keep doing the same thing and hoping for change. Maybe this will be a catalyst. Btw — nothing stops the Arab countries from funding. See if they step up.”

Ex-US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, however, took a less charitable view of the move, tweeting, “A terrible decision. This aid does not go to the PA. It supports Palestinian humanitarian programs and helps ensure a more secure environment for Israelis & Pals. Palestinian conditions will worsen, Israel will need to pay more to fill the gaps, and everyone will be less secure.”

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