In a briefing to reporters on Tuesday, the US State Department explained why $2 million in funding for the Palestinian Authority’s version of Sesame Street has been cut. The cut follows the US Congress decision to freeze almost $200 million in funds to the U.S. Agency for International Development, in response to the PA’s bid for UN membership last September.

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland expressed regret for the cut, noting that the purpose of funding the show was to help Israeli-Arab and Palestinian children understand that Arabs and Jews need to coexist peacefully.

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Appearing to try to avoid politicizing the issue, Nuland said that the US government is presently more focused on funding programs that provide basic services to Palestinians. But the show has had its share of controversy, with some of its content falling under criticism for promoting anti-Israel tropes and canards.

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