The US has released millions of dollars in frozen aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), but only for Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.
The revelations show that the US “chose to allocate specific funds for the current fiscal year to specific PA programs that ostensibly serve American interests,” a US State Department official said yesterday.
"the amount appears to be in the region of $42 million. Total US aid spent in the West Bank this year totals $92,796,646, according to the government’s online tracker,… https://t.co/zN6NDt7B5k
— David Schiaffino (@SBRiseCom) August 3, 2018
The exact amount given to the PA was not disclosed and reports speculating on the figures have varied.
The Times of Israel estimated the figure to stand at $42 million, while Haaretz reported that,
“an American official told Haaretz the released sum is $61 million, while two other sources claimed it was closer to $35 million”.
US media organization National Public Radio, added that the US administration is now
“Deciding which other Palestinian aid projects it might unfreeze, based on whether the projects meet national security interests and policy goals and provide value to US taxpayers”.
The US cut millions of dollars of vital UNRWA money to try and pressure the PA into fruitless negotiations but at the same time is funding the PA's security forces https://t.co/ycwyqYEaXI
— matt d (@restoration48) August 2, 2018
US aid to Palestine has been frozen since the start of 2018 when President Donald Trump’s administration declared an internal review of its policy.
The president also announced that $65 million would be withheld from UNRWA, the UN body that provides education, healthcare, and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem, as well as those Palestinians living in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
— Muhammad Smiry ?? Gaza (@MuhammadSmiry) August 2, 2018
In the wake of cuts to UNRWA funding, the body has been forced to dismiss 13 percent of its emergency program workers in the besieged Gaza Strip and move 57 percent on to part-time contracts.
A further 1,000 employees working in emergency programs are threatened with dismissal.
'We only demand our rights. We ask for nothing but to return home.
No more aids, just let me go back to the vineyards'.
~ An elderly Palestinian taking part in UNRWA's job cuts protest. #GreatReturnMarch #DignityIsPriceless pic.twitter.com/O3oGvQJWv2
— AbdelKarim Alkahlout #Gaza (@KareemN96) July 31, 2018
Last week, UNWRA staff in the besieged Gaza Strip protested the move outside the organization’s headquarters, with deputy head of the UNRWA Staff Union, Amal Al-Batsh, saying that
“We came today to tell UNRWA that its harsh measures against the employees working in the emergency program are unacceptable”.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) female employee seen during a performance as she takes part in a protest against job cuts announced by the agency from the headquarters in #Gaza City..UNRWA announced that it was cutting more than 250 jobs. pic.twitter.com/WVQUzHcgSR
— Aya Isleem ?? #Gaza (@AyaIsleemEn) July 26, 2018
Other countries also followed this US line, with the Israeli Knesset approving a bill to deduct tax revenue from the PA equal to the amount it paid to the families of Palestinian prisoners.
In July, Australia announced that it would stop direct aid to the PA citing concern over these so-called “martyr payments”.
Relations between the US and the PA have been strained since President Trump announced in December 2017 that he would relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.
In protest of the move, the PA recalled its ambassador to the US and has since boycotted interactions with the superpower.
#PALESTINE: Humanitarian aid gaps, including #US funding cuts to @UNRWA are compounding the economic crisis in #Gaza. Read our brie with @OxfamOPTI @premiereurgence https://t.co/ZMZ7RyYYp1 – Photo: @AFP pic.twitter.com/FZZpKQhGbV
— NRC MiddleEast (@NRC_MiddleEast) August 2, 2018
In June, six Palestinian officials scheduled to give a presentation at the UN office in New York were denied US visas without explanation. Palestinian UN Ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said that “the Israeli occupying power complicated the matter” further by refusing to allow several of the experts to go to Jerusalem to check on their visas.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)