Tuesday, June 26, 2018
EXCLUSIVE: US freezes Palestinian aid budget
ers that US assistance to the West Bank and Gaza “that directly benefits the PA” be suspended unless the Secretary of State certifies that the Palestinian Authority has met four conditions: terminating these payments to terrorists, revoking laws authorizing this compensation, taking “credible steps” to end Palestinian terrorism, and “publicly condemning” and investigating such acts of violence.
The Taylor Force Act was passed as part of an omnibus $1.3 trillion spending bill on 23 March 2018. It was named for the US army veteran who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa in March 2016, in an attack that injured eleven people.
A Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide told i24NEWS, “Our understanding is that US funding to the West Bank and Gaza is on hold pending an administration review.”
A US Embassy spokesperson told i24NEWS that assistance to the Palestinians remains under review at US President Donald Trump's direction.
"While the Taylor Force Act restricts aid to the Palestinian Authority, with very limited exceptions, the Palestinian Authority has the ability to ease those restrictions by ending the abhorrent policy of inciting violence against Americans and Israelis through payments to terrorists and their families," the spokesperson said.
Separately, i24NEWS understands that the West Bank and Gaza office of USAID -- the American international development agency -- has not received its budget for the upcoming fiscal year and therefore has not been able to put its projects out to tender.
The funding freeze has caused the suspension of certain programs run by international agencies. An official at the HALO Trust, which performs landmine clearance operations in the West Bank, told i24NEWS that it had suspended operations because the United States had stopped transferring funds at the end of May, leaving a major funding shortfall.
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