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As US aid dries up, Palestinian infrastructure projects left unfinished

A Palestinian girl holds a stuffed toy near a sewage area in Gaza City on 17 September 2013 [Ezz Zanoun/Apaimages]
A Palestinian girl holds a stuffed toy near a sewage area in Gaza City on 17 September 2013 [Ezz Zanoun/Apaimages]

The White House “blocked an emergency effort” to finish major US-funded school, water and sewage projects in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, reported NPR.

One such project is “a nearly complete multimillion-dollar sewage network in Jericho” which will now “have to be buried under asphalt and abandoned”, while “a $1.4 million school facility under construction in the Bethlehem area” will also “be left behind”, according to official documents.

NPR added that Anera, the aid group responsible for the school project, “recently received notification from the US government that it may have to tear down the school”.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID), “which oversees these projects, will lay off most of its local staff within months”, say US officials.

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After a tranche of aid cuts enacted by the Trump administration, “there was still some assistance” remaining, “being spent on projects started in previous years”.

But these funds were jeopardised by the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, which President Trump signed into law in October.

“Under the act, starting next month”, NPR explained, “if Palestinians receive U.S. aid, the Palestinian Authority could be compelled to pay millions of dollars in compensation to families of American victims of past Palestinian attacks”.

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The Palestinian Authority, which “rejects responsibility for attacks”, has informed the US “that it will not accept aid money spent under these conditions”. Thus, by 1 February, all US aid programmes for Palestinians will end, officials added.

“To abandon schools and water systems while in the midst of construction represents the worst instincts of this administration”, Dave Harden, who oversaw US aid programmes in the occupied Palestinian territory under the Obama administration, told NPR. “This peace team has no shame”.

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