The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will end all its projects assisting refugees in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip on January 31st following the US administration’s decision to cut funding to the Palestinians. The decision has been confirmed by Dave Harden, former USAID Mission Director and Managing Director of the Georgetown Strategy Group.
According to Hebrew-language news outlets, Harden expressed deep concern over the move to shut down USAID and said that the US administration “demonstrates again a lack of nuance, sophistication, and appreciation for the complexity of the situation.” He stressed, “Who suffers when USAID leaves schools and water systems unfinished? Palestinians, of course, but also Israelis and Americans. The administration just gave Hamas more running room.”
The shut down on January 31st conforms with implementation of the Trump administration’s Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, a bill signed into law last October by the US President, which creates liability for the Palestinian Authority (PA) should it accept any foreign assistance from the US government – effectively shutting down all USAID programming. Harden posted on his Twitter account that halting USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza was “another example of the end of the two-state solution.”
The Jerusalem Post reported that several foreign nationals who were assigned to various USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have left the country in recent weeks and months together with their families after being informed of the decision to end the projects they were working on at the end of this month.
US President Donald Trump’s administration notified Congress of its decision to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, in August 2018, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.