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USAID officially ceases assistance in West Bank and Gaza

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has officially ceased all assistance to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

According to Reuters, the move came in line with a January 31st deadline set by the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), a new US legislation that allows Americans to sue foreign aid recipients in US court over alleged complicity in “acts of war.”

Reuters quoted a senior US official who confirmed that all USAID operations were ceased in the Palestinian Territory, including the end of some $60 million in U.S. aid for Palestinian security forces.

Following the passage of the ATCA, the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to Reuters, declined further US funding for its security forces and other branches of government, over concerns they could be exposed to anti-terrorism lawsuits.

“At the request of the Palestinian Authority, we have wound down certain projects and programs funded with assistance under the authorities specified in ATCA in the West Bank and Gaza,” Reuters quoted the US official as saying.

The official did not clarify how long the cessation of funds would last, though analysts have speculated that US funding could return to the Palestinian Territories if local officials agree to American-led peace negotiations — something Palestinians have boycotted ever since US President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

According to the report, there are currently no steps being taken to close the USAID mission in the Palestinian territories, and no decision had been made regarding future staffing at the USAID mission in the US Embassy.

In November 2018, USAID announced that by early 2019, their operations will be completely shut down, leaving thousands of local Palestinian institutions and businesses that benefit from USAID funding empty handed.

For over 20 years, USAID has provided some $5.5 billion for infrastructure, education, health, and economic projects in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Since he took office, President Trump has slashed some $500 million in US aid to Palestinians, leaving many organizations and aid programs strapped for cash.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), which provides essential services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, took the biggest hit when the US pulled all its funding — some $350 million annually — last year.

The cuts have threatened the closure of UNRWA schools and clinics, as well as the reduction in healthcare and food assistance programs.

Last month, The World Food Programme (WFP), which provided assistance to 250,000 Palestinians in Gaza and 110,000 in the West Bank, announced severe reductions and suspensions in aid for Palestinian beneficiaries due to funding shortages brought on by US aid cuts.

The financial crisis of organizations like UNRWA and WFP will disproportionately affect Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, who make up more than 70% of the coastal enclave’s 2 million residents.

About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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6 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay on February 4, 2019, 7:50 am

    USAID assistance to the victims ends.
    US aid to the (war) criminal never ends.
    “Unshakeable bond”, “no light between”.

  2. Misterioso
    Misterioso on February 4, 2019, 8:51 am

    @eljay, et al

    A reminder:

    “Media Ignore Largest Foreign Military Aid Package in US History” If Americans Knew Blog, Nov. 29/18 By Alison Weir

    “Congress is about to legislate the largest military aid package to a foreign country in U.S. history, but U.S. media aren’t telling the American public.

    “Israelis know about the money, and Israel partisans are pressuring the one lone Senator opposing it, but apparently U.S. news organizations don’t think the general public needs to know…”

    “In an astounding case of media negligence, U.S. news media are failing to tell Americans that Congress is about to enact legislation for the largest military aid package to a foreign country in U.S. history.

    “This aid package would likely be of interest to Americans, many of whom are cutting back their own personal spending.

    “The package is $38 billion to Israel over the next ten years, which amounts to $7,230 per minute to Israel, or $120 per second, and equals about $23,000 for each Jewish Israeli family of four. A stack of 38 billion one-dollar bills would reach ten times higher than the International Space Station as it orbits the earth.
    “And that’s the minimum – the amount of aid will likely go up in future years.

    “Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”
    “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.”

    Nor should we forget:
    “Inside the Evangelical Money Flowing Into the West Bank” by Judy Maltz, Haaretz, Dec. 9/18
    “A Haaretz investigation reveals that Christian groups have invested up to $65 million in projects in the ‘Biblical Heartland’ over the past decade. That doesn’t include services they provide free of charge, like volunteer laborers.”

    • YoniFalic
      YoniFalic on February 4, 2019, 10:51 am

      Official foreign aid to the State of Israel is insignificant in comparison with the total cost of the State of Israel to the USA since the founding (ie, theft from the native population and genocide thereof).

  3. Misterioso
    Misterioso on February 4, 2019, 10:56 am

    Re Gaza:

    “Israeli Siege of Gaza producing ‘Grotesque’ Medical Crisis: European Doctors,”
    Middle East Monitor Feb. 3/19

    “A group of eminent medical and health professionals has drawn attention to the devastating situation in the hospitals across the Gaza Strip. In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Derek A Summerfield et al referred to the fact that last August they published a rapid response at to publicise ‘the cumulatively devastating effects upon Gaza’s health system of 12 years of Israeli blockade and the strategy of de-development and impoverishment of Gazan society.’ Israeli restrictions, they pointed out at the time, have produced chronic shortages of almost all essential medicines and hospital equipment, of fuel to run hospital generators, the cancellation of all elective surgery (affecting more than 6000 people), hospital closures, and many doctors and staff on reduced or no pay.

    “’Since last March,’ they have now pointed out, ‘Israeli snipers have been firing military grade ammunition and maiming bullets at the border at unarmed demonstrators, killing 257 to date.’ Indeed, this week BBC Radio 4 quoted the UN confirming that more than 23,000 Palestinians have been wounded.

    “Médecins Sans Frontières, the group explained, estimates that ‘…a massive 3,520 people will need further surgery…’ far beyond the grossly depleted resources available. As the shooting on the nominal border continues, one person was killed on Friday 25 January, and 153 were injured, including 34 children, 5 women, 1 journalist, and 5 paramedics on duty. ‘Since March 2018, three clearly marked medics have been shot dead on duty, 580 have been wounded and 94 ambulances have been damaged.'(as reported by The New York Times, B’Tselem, and Mezan) The targeting of health workers, they stressed to the BMJ, is itself a war crime.

    “’We write again now at a point when Gaza’s hospitals are in particular peril of total shutdown because of lack of electricity or fuel to run generators.’ To keep up the pressure of the siege, they noted, Israel rations the entry of fuel into Gaza, including imposing conditions on donors like Qatar. ‘One of the hospitals that nearly shut last week was Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital, which currently has 8 children in intensive care, 30 premature babies in the nursery, 100 other child in-patients, and 250 children attending the emergency department.’

    “They gave details of other hospitals suffering from the chronic shortages of medicines, medical disposables and fuel in the Gaza Strip: ‘Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital has 45 children with renal failure, 4 children in intensive care, 10 child in-patients with cancer, 70 others needing chemotherapy, 10 children with chronic lung disease, 5 with heart disease, and 10 with other diseases.’ In a third hospital, Al-Najjar, which serves 263,000 people, there are 65 beds, including 23 for children. ‘It has 93 patients in renal failure, should provide key laboratory services, and sees hundreds of cases in its emergency department every day.’ A fourth, the Eye Hospital, sees 2,500 cases and performs 250 surgical procedures monthly, including glaucoma, cataract and retinal surgery. ‘Around 1,250 patients with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and chronic corneal conditions are threatened by loss of sight if services stop. Also living hand to mouth is the psychiatric hospital, which currently has 29 in-patients.’

    “The group of medical and health professionals described this as a ‘grotesque situation’ and ‘a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention’ that guarantees unfettered access to medical facilities for conflict-affected populations. ‘This is an intended element of the siege, and persists because no one with political clout challenges Israeli impunity. A UN General Assembly resolution last year has been simply ignored. And no sanctions have been requested yet.’

    “In closing, Mr. Summerfield and the other signatories said that the Palestinians in Gaza are turning to the solidarity of the international community and to the UN for the lifting of the siege and for justice. ‘How much longer should they have to wait?’ they asked.

    “The signatories of the letter to the British Medical Journal were: Derek A Summerfield, Hon Senior Clinical Lecturer, London Institute of Psychiatry; Vittorio Agnoletto, Professor in Globalisation and Public Health, University of Studies, Milan; Swee Ang, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, Barts Health, London; Andrea Balduzzi, researcher in Zoology, University of Genoa; Franco Camandona, Surgeon in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, E.O. Galliera Hospitals, Genoa; David Halpin, retired Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Exeter; Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter; Paola Manduca, retired Professor of Genetics and President, New Weapons Research Group-Onlus; Marina Rui, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Genoa; Gianni Tognoni, Mario Negri Institute, Milan; Guido Veronese, Associate Professor, Clinical and Community Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca.”

  4. CigarGod
    CigarGod on February 4, 2019, 8:41 pm

    A people have to possess morals before they can care about whether their own leaders have them…let alone whether another country and people have them.
    The USA only seems to have them when they point the finger at the other guy.

  5. Rashers2
    Rashers2 on February 5, 2019, 2:15 am

    The USA’s decision was expected and well-flagged – merely further evidence of the moral deficit that exists in Washington when it comes to I/P. Not only is it indefensible in absolute, humanitarian terms owing to the greater misery and privation it will cause among an already-oppressed and deprived people but it will not achieve what I suspect is foolishly hoped in the corridors of power, namely to browbeat and blackmail the Palestinians into acceptance of Kushner’s “Deal of the Century”; it will simply increase the justifiable animus towards and distrust by the Palestinians of anything coming in their direction out of America.

    Tangentially, I saw on Friday last that the Occupier has booted the longstanding international presence out of the pressure-cooker that is Al Khalil (Hebron) in the OWB.

    Occupation-watchers may perceive this as yet more evidence of the Israelis’ desire to continue and intensify their programme of gratuitous provocation and war crime in the OWB – and in Hebron in particular – free from interference and scrutiny from pesky, anti-Semitic, external observers like the Swiss. The full joint statement issued by the contributor nations which since 1997 formed this presence is below:

    “We regret the unilateral decision by the Israeli government not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) after 31 January 2019.

    “The current TIPH was established on 1 February 1997, in accordance with an agreement of 21 January 1997 pursuant to a provision in the Interim Agreement (Oslo II Accord) signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1995 (Annex I, Article VII, Paragraph 10), witnessed by the US, the EU, the Russian Federation, Egypt and Jordan.

    “The Israeli decision to withdraw from the agreement with the PLO and thereby terminate the TIPH constitutes a departure from the Oslo II Accord of 1995. We took note that the PLO signed the agreement to renew the TIPH mandate. We are prepared to continuing [sic] the Mission if requested by both parties.

    “Since the UN Security Council adopted resolution 904 in 1994, calling for a temporary international presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, the situation in Hebron remains tense and fragile. We are concerned that the Israeli government’s decision undermines one of the few established mechanisms for conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians and may therefore have a negative impact on the situation.

    “In this regard, we stress Israel’s obligations under international law to protect the people in Hebron and in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, and its duty to ensure accountability for violations thereof.

    “The TIPH has diligently fulfilled its mandate as requested by both parties, and thus contributed to preventing violence and promoting a feeling of security for the population in Hebron. For the past 22 years, both parties have renewed the TIPH’s mandate every sixth months. The contributing countries have supported the Mission to fulfill its mandate at the parties’ request, and in the parties’ interest. We therefore strongly object to any claim that the TIPH has acted against Israel. Such claims are unacceptable and ungrounded.

    “From 1 February 2019, the TIPH lacks a mandate to perform its duties as previously requested by both parties. The TIPH will therefore close down in an orderly, safe and dignified manner within a realistic timeframe. We call on both parties to assist and facilitate the TIPH through this process and remind them of their responsibilities for the security and inviolability of the TIPH.

    “We are deeply grateful to all the men and women who have served in the TIPH during the past 22 years, often under challenging circumstances. In particular, we honour the memory of Catherine Berruex and Turgut Cengiz Toytunç, who lost their lives while carrying out their duties in the TIPH.

    “We urge the parties to make progress towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict and to resolve all outstanding issues. Only a negotiated two-state solution can create a durable peace between the parties, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.

    “We will remain seized of the matter and will be at the parties’ disposal to assist them in their search for peace.”

    Signed by the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden

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