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US-funded projects face grassroots backlash in the occupied Palestinian territory

January 8, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Palestinians protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in Gaza city on 8 January 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

US-funded projects in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are facing a grassroots backlash following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, says the Guardian.

According to the report, since December there have been various forms of “protests aimed at halting Palestinian NGOs’ participation in US-funded programmes ranging from clean water deliveries to support for law students”.

Actions have included “refusals to meet with US project managers and a rash of requests by groups backed by aid money to seek waivers to remove US-linked branding – including the US flag – from their promotional materials.”

The article quotes Ibrahim Ghrouf, who works with a Palestinian NGO in Jericho, “one of whose US-funded projects provides clean bottled water”. He told the paper: “The Trump decision has really harmed the work of NGOs. We distribute clean bottled water that has the US flag on it. There’s never been any problem with that with the public. But after Trump’s decision there has been a lot of sensitivity.”

“People came to us and said we have confidence in you but we don’t want you to deal with the Americans. So we’re facing a major problem. We can’t run activities [linked to the US] that it will put us in an awkward position.”

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The Guardian report cited another example, that of the nearby Good Shepherd School, “whose support from USAid is advertised on a plaque by the main entrance, staff described having been picketed by protesters.”

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, told the Guardian that pressure to cut ties with US-funded projects was being driven by the widespread feeling that the US was not an honest broker.

The overwhelming majority of Palestinians has always recognised successive US administrations as not just patrons of but also partners in crime with Israel’s regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid

he said.

“But the latest attempt by the far-right, anti-Palestinian Trump-Netanyahu alliance to take off the table UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people, including Jerusalem, has taken popular Palestinian protests against this deepening official US complicity to a level that has not been seen since the 1993 Oslo accords.”