As part of its policy to end all aid for Palestinian civilians, the United States is blocking millions of dollars to programs that build relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, according to current and former American officials briefed on the change.
The move to prevent Palestinians — including, in many cases, children — from benefiting from the funds squeezes shut the last remaining channel of American aid to Palestinian civilians.
The money had already been budgeted by Congress for allocation in fiscal year 2017, which ends this month. In the past, these designated funds went mostly to programs that organized people-to-people exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis, often for youth. Some went to programs for Israeli Jews and Arabs.
Advocates had hoped this last $10 million pot of money would remain available to projects with Palestinians, even as the Trump administration cut all other aid.
But last week, officials from the United States Agency for International Development told congressional aides that programs that benefit Palestinians alongside Israelis would not receive any new money, said Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont. Mr. Leahy established the broader program managed by U.S.A.I.D.
The agency’s officials did not want to cut programs with Palestinians, but had to accommodate a White House that does not want to send American funds to Palestinians, Mr. Rieser said.
As a result, only programs with Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs will get funding, contrary to the tradition of the funds and intent of Congress. [Continue reading…]