The United States has completely frozen its civil assistance to the Palestinian Authority, Israeli TV station i24 revealed on Monday. This step, it is said, came two months after the decision of the US Congress to oblige the PA to stop paying salaries for Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails and the families of Palestinians killed by Israel.
According to the report, Washington has four conditions to be fulfilled before such assistance can be resumed: stopping payments to prisoners and families of Palestinians killed by Israel; cancelling laws that guarantee paying these salaries; taking “credible” measures to fight “terror”; and condemning “Palestinian terror and violence.” A member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed that “the US budget for the West Bank and Gaza is suspended until it is reviewed.”
In addition, USAID in the West Bank and Gaza has not received its budget for the year, and so is unable to submit bids for its projects. A number of projects run by international aid agencies working in the Palestinian territories will be suspended due to the freeze of US funding.
An official from the HALO Trust, which carries out landmine clearance, also said that it has stopped its work because the US suspended its budget in March.
“The Trump administration told the PA in the middle of January that it had started to review the budget for assistance to the Palestinians,” one PA official pointed out. He added that the US also told the PA that it had suspended its assistance in the wake of May’s meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.
The US has been the largest financial supporter of the PA. The US Department of State had asked the Treasury for around $215m a year for Palestinian projects in 2018 and 2019.