According to several diplomatic sources, the White House intends to withhold as much as $200 million in relief aid for Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza — which is almost the entirety of the humanitarian aid the U.S. grants the Palestinians directly. This comes after the U.S. has already cut its contributions to UNRWA, the United Nations agency that assists Palestinian refugees.
As Foreign Policy reports, holding back the $200 million amounts to “severing a vital humanitarian lifeline at a time of rising political and security tensions in the area,” and the Trump administration “appears to have no immediate plans to provide more” aid after abandoning its UNRWA donations.
The decision to make the cut came down from a “high-level meeting” at the beginning of the week with Jared Kushner — son-in-law of the president, Middle East advisor, and a man who pioneered that vest-over-blazer look that, shockingly, did not catch on with the masses — and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. No official comment has been made by the State Department; a National Security Council spokesperson told Foreign Policy that “no decision has been made.”
From Foreign Policy:
Congress had already appropriated $230 million in economic support funds for private relief groups in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. But the officials decided they would ask lawmakers to withhold most of the funds, according to the diplomatic sources, who preferred not to be identified discussing sensitive issues…
The cut will affect scores of programs administered by nongovernmental charities in the West Bank and Gaza, including CARE, Catholic Relief Services, International Medical Corps, and Mercy Corps. The groups provide food, medical equipment, and services. It would also likely kill off key programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
What the Trump administration will continue to fund to the tune of $25 million annually, as sources told Foreign Policy: A network of six hospitals in East Jerusalem.
Andy Dwonch, the mission director for Mercy Corps in Palestine (where 13 employees have already been given their pink slips) told Foreign Policy, “It’s like a perfect storm of developments building toward the worst situation we have seen in decades in Gaza.”
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Author: Jessica M. Goldstein