USAID cut will create negative atmosphere, instability- PA spokesman says

Trump's special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt called Rudeineh's statement disingenuous.

By REUTERS
February 3, 2019 00:26
2 minute read.
Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rudeineh

Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rudeineh. (photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)

 
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The ending of assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will have a negative impact on all, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said "The suspension of aid to our people, which included critical sectors such as health and education, will have a negative impact on all, create a negative atmosphere, and increase instability," said Rudeineh.

The US ceased all assistance on Friday as part of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) which empowers Americans to sue foreign aid recipients in U. courts over alleged complicity in "acts of war." USAID is the main agency administering U.S. foreign assistance in the Palestinian territories. According to its website, the agency spent $268 million on public projects in the West Bank and Gaza as well as Palestinian private sector debt repayment in 2017, but there were significant cuts to all new funding through the end of June 2018.

Trump's special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt called Rudeineh's statement disingenuous.

"Palestinians are too smart to continue to live as victims and recipients of foreign aid. Until a political solution is found (maybe it will be our peace plan?), the PA must focus on helping Palestinians lead better lives," he tweeted.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan condemned the cuts, deploring what he called "politicised money".

The announcement comes after humanitarian officials in the West Bank and Gaza said they were already facing a cutback from donors worldwide.

Last year Washington cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinians, which included funding to humanitarian groups supported by USAID.

The U.S. cuts were widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to resume the peace talks with Israel and to engage with the Trump administration ahead of its long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

As a result, dozens of NGO employees have been laid off, programmes shut down, and infrastructure projects halted.

In Gaza, Mohammad Ashour said he once earned $600 a month providing psychological support to people with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

The project was run by the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution. But, said Ashour, he lost his job last summer because the program was funded with the help of USAID money.

"I have no clue how am I going to pursue my life," said Ashour, from Bureij refugee camp.

"I have no job and I am in debt, maybe tomorrow the police will come and take me to jail. An educated man ends in jail, I am wrecked." In August, Washington announced an end to all U.S. funding for the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees. The agency received $364 million from the United States in 2017.

In January the World Food Programme cut food aid to about 190,000 Palestinians due to a shortage of funds.

Diplomatic sources said Palestinian, U.S. and Israeli officials were trying to find ways to keep the money flowing to Abbas's security forces.

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